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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 9 Hansard (19 September) . . Page.. 2866..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

We are a small jurisdiction dealing with a small number of children. For example, we only have just under 500 children on some sort of order and in the care of the chief executive. We are not dealing with a huge population here. We have got huge amounts of resources going into this area. We have had a massive period of reform. Our community sector in this area is very strong.

The commissioner is to complement that. It is not to be a place which handles individual grievances or manages that very close, one-to-one dealing with complaints which arise from time to time. The role of the commissioner, and the idea of the commissioner, is to provide systemic advice across the community about priorities for children. Listening to children and young people is one of those areas. I am sure the persons appointed to these positions will have the level of professionalism for those decisions to be taken by all commissioners about how they manage their workloads. When we are looking at the role of the children's commissioner—and, as I said, I will talk to Dr Packer about the concerns which she did not go into but alluded to—I am sure that we can certainly work out a way of supporting those concerns.

As I said, this is a new service in addition to the organisations that are already funded. A number of them are in the non-government area. We have the Office of Children, Youth and Family Support and the Public Advocate. This is a new level of support for children and young people. I am very confident that the model that is put place—and we consulted extensively with children and young people in determining the model—will be able to deliver an excellent service for children and young people in the ACT.

Health—public system

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, my question is also to the Minister for Health. Minister, in recent days the ACT community has learnt of the relatively limited availability of the EEG service that is provided by the ACT public health system. Why does the ACT public health system have only one technician who is capable of using the EEG facility? What arrangements have you put in place, in the event that that person capable of performing EEG tests goes on leave, to ensure that patients can still get an EEG test in the ACT public hospital system?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mr Smyth for the question. I am advised that it requires a very specialised skill to perform an EEG. It is not an area where we have a lot of staff. In fact, I think the person who has been doing the EEGs and was unavailable in the instance that Mr Smyth talks about is the only person at the Canberra Hospital performing EEGs at this moment. We have engaged a trainee technical officer, who will be starting work in the next month, to provide extra support and extra capacity in this area. But I think it is simply about a very specialised service that is being run and the fact that we do not have additional people to perform that task, although we have another measure in place with this trainee coming in the next month.

I understand that for EEGs to be performed, it is quite acceptable in almost every instance to book people for those procedures and that that can be done and that it can be managed. In the case that was referred to in the Canberra Times, the advice was that an EEG to be performed a couple of weeks after the patient presented to the hospital was quite clinically acceptable—although, I accept, quite distressing for that family. That is


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