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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 5 Hansard (31 May) . . Page.. 1301..

MS GALLAGHER: I know. They are hard to ignore, though, particularly when they are annoying and when they do not understand the issues.

MR SPEAKER: It just makes it easier.

MS GALLAGHER: Feel free to blame us. That is part of the job. But the impact of that and the impact of the insinuation that we have the worst performing health system in the country is that morale in the hospital plummets and people get concerned. Every day they turn up to work they do their best and, when you have reports like the one out today and you have people focusing on just three measures, not the whole system, and not looking at all the good things that this report says, there is an effect on the staff.

One of the issues we have in the emergency department is the recruiting of medical staff to positions. We are very short-staffed there at the moment and we have been pulling out all stops to fill those positions. Not having enough medical staff in your emergency department will affect the timeliness of people being seen, because there simply isn't the full complement of doctors working there.

We get into a vicious circle when we have people focusing on saying that we have the worst performing emergency department in the country in that it is very hard then to attract staff to work here. The market is very competitive. We do have a plan for reform. We believe that it will pay off. More needs to happen around categories 3 and 4, but we need to ensure that it is seen in a bigger picture of how the health system is operating. Mr Seselja is so interested in the answer to this question that he has actually walked away. We are dealing with the issues that have been highlighted in the report and I am very confident that we will see improvements in those areas. The dedicated staff that work in those areas should be congratulated and acknowledged by this Assembly.

Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders

MS PORTER: Mr Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Chief Minister in his capacity as the Minister for Indigenous Affairs. As we celebrate Reconciliation Week, can the Chief Minister outline for the Assembly how the ACT government is meeting its commitment to improve the lives of indigenous Canberrans?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms Porter for the question. I think we all acknowledge that it is a matter of abiding shame for every Australian that those who inhabited this land for tens of thousands of years before the colonial period remain, two centuries on, the single most disadvantaged group in Australian society. It is a matter of shame and a call to action.

Life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is shorter, poor health is more of a burden, economic security is more elusive, standards of education achievement are lower and the chances of being a victim of crime are higher. A city like ours ought to be able to break out of this intergenerational cycle of disadvantage, if anywhere can. We are affluent and well educated. We understand the mechanics of disadvantage. And I believe, by and large, we are less prone to blame the victim for

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