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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 1545..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

The ACT Department of Health and Community Care is working with the Commonwealth department on a joint ACT/Commonwealth proposal for after-hours care. I will need to take on notice the question of the extent to which those issues have been progressed, as I do not have the detail with me. I am happy to get back to Mr Smyth with details of the work that is currently being done by the people in the ACT department with their Commonwealth colleagues.

In addition to that there has been a continuing commitment to Health First and the call centre initiative. The call centre was also initiated by the previous government, and we supported it at the time to determine the extent to which a call-centre-based approach to the provision of advice and assistance to people seeking after-hours health care would alleviate pressure on the emergency departments of both the Canberra Hospital and Calvary Hospital.

We are still awaiting the outcome of that trial, and we will be proposing initiatives in relation to after-hour services as a result of the final outcomes of that. I will have to check these figures but, from memory, the latest activity statistics or figures provided to me by each of the public hospitals indicate an interesting reduction in presentations at accident and emergency-by about 5 per cent-and that some of the pressure on accident and emergency and the after-hours service has been alleviated.

The government is proceeding on a number of fronts, and I think we are making some progress. It is a very difficult issue, particularly acknowledging the advice of the college of GPs that, on a per capita basis, Canberra has 39 to 40 GPs fewer than one would anticipate for a population such as ours. The shortage of GPs and some other health professionals in the ACT is a continuing and serious issue for the community, and the issue of after-hours care is something we are particularly conscious of.

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, that sounds like a very long no. Given that the Chief Minister is going to take some aspects of it on notice, perhaps he could also tell us what the new time frame will be for him to keep his promise.

MR STANHOPE: Certainly, Mr Smyth. I am more than happy to provide you with further details in relation to the work that the government is doing in this important area.

Funding for Winter Olympic and Paralympic sports

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, my question is to the minister for sport, Mr Quinlan. Minister, the Prime Minister recently stated that the federal government would provide additional funding for Winter Olympic and Paralympic sports preparations. This represents the ongoing commitment of the federal government to the further improvement of Australia's sporting performance, much of which depends on the ACT-based AIS. A significant amount of this funding will benefit the ACT sporting community, mostly through the AIS, and there will be flow-on benefits to the community generally.

Minister, given that the AIS plays a critical role in Australia's preparation for international sporting competitions, including the Olympics, do you agree that we cannot afford to jeopardise it? Should the government now reconsider its options for the


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