Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 9 Hansard (18 August) . . Page.. 2892..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
afternoon. If there are questions for the Treasurer or Minister for Economic Development and Business, I would be happy to assist.
Questions without notice
MR SMYTH: My question to the Minister for Health is in relation to nurse turnover rates in the ACT. Minister, in your answer to question on notice 444, you advised that 188 nurses at registered nurse level 1 were recruited in 2004-05. However, in that same period, 100 level 1 registered nurses resigned, an effective attrition rate of 53 per cent of the intake and 16 per cent of the total number of level 1 nurses employed in ACT public hospitals. Minister, why is the attrition rate so high for level 1 registered nurses?
MR CORBELL: I thank Mr Smyth for the question. One of the key factors influencing nurse turnover is the rapid aging of the nursing workforce. The nursing workforce is a rapidly aging workforce. Whilst we are seeing good numbers of younger nurses joining ACT Health across the range of its services, we are still seeing-given the average age of the workforce is the mid 40s-an increasing number of older nurses leaving the workforce due to their age and due to lifestyle choices that they are making. This will remain an ongoing pressure for the ACT government, regardless of its political persuasion, in managing the workforce and, indeed, in addressing changes in the composition of the workforce.
For that reason, this government is the first government to establish a workforce plan for ACT Health and an assessment of workforce needs into the future because, whether it is in nursing, whether it is in allied health, whether it is in a range of other health specialties, that is, some medical specialties even, we need to have a comprehensive strategy in place to address recruitment and retention issues. I am pleased to say we now have that in a very wide variety of areas across ACT Health and we will be continuing to use those strategies to address these issues as we continue to face, obviously, areas of workforce shortage, nationally and internationally, and the aging of the workforce in areas such as nursing.
MR SMYTH: Minister, given the high level of attrition of level 1 nurses, does it not show that your strategy is, therefore, failing?
MR CORBELL: I can't stop people getting older and retiring, Mr Smyth.
MR PRATT: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, in question time yesterday you said that you would most likely be increasing the number of CCTV cameras in the ACT, and that you already had a disaster evacuation plan for the territory in place. In contrast to your latest position, however, you said in the Canberra Times only three weeks ago, on 25 July, that you were reluctant to install surveillance cameras throughout Canberra's public places, that you would prefer to spend more money on police officers for the territory rather than install security cameras around the city. You also attacked the positions taken by the Prime Minister and the state premiers on increasing anti-terrorist measures after the recent London bombings as "knee jerk and populist responses."Chief Minister, what exactly has motivated your uncharacteristic