Mr chairman: Good morning. I welcome Mr Vatskalis, and invite you to introduce the officers accompanying you, and if you wish to make an opening statement on behalf of the Department of Health and Families. Minister vatskalis’ portfolios

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ESTIMATES COMMITTEE - Thursday 17 June 2010
The Estimates Committee convened at 8.30 am.
Mr CHAIRMAN: Good morning. I welcome Mr Vatskalis, and invite you to introduce the officers 
accompanying you, and if you wish to make an opening statement on behalf of the Department of 
Health and Families.
Mr VATSKALIS: Mr Chairman, I would like to make a brief statement in relation to my portfolios. I 
would like to introduce senior officers of the Department of Health and Families who are here with me 
today: Mr Alan Wilson, Acting Chief Executive; Mr Peter Beirne, Chief Operations Officer; Ms Clare 
Gardiner-Barnes, Acting Executive Director, NT Families and Children; Ms Helen Mason, Acting 
Executive Director, Acute Care; Ms Jenny Cleary, Executive Director, Health Services; Dr Barbara 
Paterson, Chief Health Officer and Executive Director, Health Protection; Ms Liz Stackhouse, General 
Manager, Royal Darwin Hospital; and Ms Vicki Taylor, General Manager, Alice Springs Hospital. As 
we progress, I will introduce other officers who may be required for specific output group questions.
This government is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of all Territorians. We have 
committed record budgets for the Department of Health and Families, with over $1bn allocated for the 
past three years. 
I will be taking questions for the general outputs and the whole-of-agency output for the Department 
of Health and Families, as well as the output areas of 
Northern Territory Families and Children - Family and Parent Support Services; Child Protection 
Services; Out of Home Care; Youth Services; Family Violence and Sexual Assault Services; and the 
Children’s Commissioner.
Acute Care - Admitted Patient Services and Non-admitted Patient Services;
Health and Wellbeing Services - Community Health; Mental Health; Community Support Services for 
Frail Aged and People with a Disability;
Public Health Services - Environment Health; Disease Control; Alcohol and Other Drugs Services; 
and Health Research.
My colleague, Mr Knight, will take questions on the output group, Senior Territorians and Pensioner 
Concessions, as well as issues related to the Office of Youth Affairs. Questions relating to the Office 
of Women’s Policy were directed to minister Malarndirri McCarthy.
The Department of Health and Families output budget increased during the 2009-10 financial year
from $1.052bn to $1.121bn, an increase of $69m, or 6.6%. This increase during this year was 
predominantly the result of an increase in Australian government funding negotiated by the 
department. The department is expected to again meet its budget targets for the 2009-10 financial 
year. I am pleased to announce this government is again delivering a record budget for Health and 
Families for 2010-11 with $1.158bn. This represents an additional $44.6m, or a 6% through Northern 
Territory government funding to the department. There is currently a slight decrease in funding from 
the Australian government of 3.7% while new agreements are being finalised. 
As noted earlier, in the 2009-10 financial year, the department received significant Australian 
government funding primarily relating to the Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory.
Some outputs within the Health and Wellbeing Services, NT Families and Children, and the Public 
Health output groups currently show a reduction due to the contraction of Australian government 
funding from 2009-10 levels. Currently, the department is negotiating with the Australian government 
to secure agreements on the level of funding to be provided in 2010-11. Significant changes are 

expected to the federal government’s funding reforms to the Acute Care and Primary Health Care 
sectors. We expect we will reach agreement shortly, and these variations will then be incorporated in 
the department’s 2010-11 budget.
Before I highlight some of the key areas of this budget, I would like to reflect on our achievements in 
an additional $5.9m was approved to establish or expand programs under the government’s 
initiative for Closing the Gap of Indigenous Disadvantage; 
$1.5m to fund a dental blitz, which has been successful in reducing waiting times in Darwin and 
Palmerston for general dental care. We have brought the list down from 4525 people to 1355 people; 
and 320 of these patients booked in for treatment. Fewer than 10% of the patients on the list had 
been waiting for two years; 
implementation of the Nursing Hours per Patient Day staffing system across the Northern Territory 
hospital network, delivering an additional 95 nurses; 
opening of the Alan Walker Cancer Care Centre to provide radiation and oncology services to 
Northern Territory residents, together with the Barbara James House, which provides accommodation 
for these patients; 
provided additional funding to provide back-up power generation on the Royal Darwin Hospital - 
twenty safe places opened in 15 remote communities, employing 89 local people; 
expanded the Northern Territory-wide Mobile Outreach Service to provide a therapeutic service for 
children in remote communities who are suffering trauma from any form of child abuse and neglect; 
expanded the targeted family support services to include Katherine and Darwin.
Budget 2010-11 continues to deliver on Closing the Gap initiatives and A Working Future by 
addressing other important health priorities in the community. The NT Families and Children’s budget 
is increased by $19m and continues this government’s commitment to improve services in this 
important area. 
In 2010-11, further service enhancements are planned in the following areas: $6m to develop the Out 
of Home Care Service system; a further $3.9m to expand initiatives under the Closing the Gap; and 
over $2m for the establishment of an after hours response to youth on the streets in Alice Springs and 
emergency accommodation services. These initiatives and funding for an additional 76 workers are 
included within the $14.6m of new funds committed to improving the Child Protection System.
The Acute Services Output highlights include: 
$7.26m for the ongoing operation of the Alan Walker Cancer Care Centre; 
$620 000 for additional pathology staff at Royal Darwin Hospital; 
$1.7m to expand renal services in Tennant Creek and $2.8m to construct a new renal facility in 
$1.2m to Alice Springs and Royal Darwin Hospitals to continue the implementation of a coordinated 

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