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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 6 Hansard (7 June) . . Page.. 1570..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

We have supported the entry of a new tertiary education provider for undergraduate nursing within the territory. The Australian Catholic University has launched a very innovative accelerated program for enrolled nurses to upgrade their qualification to that of registered nurses. That is a fantastic program. There are 50 places available, and the first students commenced the program in February 2007. The ability to upgrade your qualifications cannot be understated. Enrolled nurses have fantastic skills that they have learned in the hospital environment. To fast-track them through a new course to recognise them as registered nurses will go a long way to making sure that we keep enrolled nurses in the health system—upgrading their skills and getting appropriate recognition for that.

For postgraduate nurses, we have a six-month new graduate program for newly enrolled nursing staff. This is where we also provide six weeks paid leave or sabbatical leave per annum for 12 nursing and midwifery staff who are in the final stages of completing higher degrees—that is, masters or doctorates.

In mental health, we work with La Trobe University to offer postgraduate educational programs for both enrolled nurses and registered nurses. We have a refresher and re-entry program, another way of attracting nurses. There is a worldwide shortage of nurses, so we do look at every way we can to ensure that we are trying to entice nurses who may have left the profession to re-enter and continue to work in the profession.

Recently it was Nurses and Midwives Week. There were fantastic awards to recognise the efforts of the nurses in our health system. A number of fantastic nurses won a range of awards this year. (Time expired.)


MR PRATT: My question is to the Minister for Education and Training. Minister, on radio 2CC at 7.35 am on Monday, 4 June 2007, the harrowing story was told of a professional woman, a mother of two children who have been bullied and seriously assaulted on a number of occasions at school where no police were called to attend. Even more disturbingly, it was reported in that interview that serious assaults and sexual misconduct are occurring across a number of ACT high schools, including at least one alleged case of gang rape, with very little action by authorities being taken.

Minister, why have you allowed the situation to have reached the point where such serious assaults on students and teachers and sexual misconduct have occurred and continue to occur in our schools?

MR BARR: I have not.

MR PRATT: My supplementary to the minister is this: minister, do you have such little regard for the welfare, the safety and the moral development of our school students that you have failed to act in a timely manner on these issues?

MR BARR: The insinuation in that question is fairly outrageous. But for the record, as I have indicated in this place before, the government has put in place a range of measures to address the particular concerns that have had some airing in the media.

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