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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 9 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 3372..


Health—H1N1 influenza

MR HANSON (Molonglo) (3.58): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) notes the grave concerns raised by the family of the first victim of the H1N1 Influenza '09 (Swine Flu) in the ACT with regard to the way they were treated by ACT Health and the circumstances in which details of the death were widely reported in the media prior to the family receiving details; and

(2) requests that the Minister for Health:

(a) provide the Assembly with a full explanation of any failures in communication that occurred between ACT Health and the family; and

(b) provide a full explanation of the current ACT Health procedures for notifying family and the public of any Swine Flu deaths in the ACT.

It is with some regret that I bring this motion before the house, and I do so with a degree of sensitivity, noting that this relates to a personal matter that affected the family of Mr Michael Johns: the first fatality from swine flu in the ACT. I would like to firstly express—I am sure that this would get unanimous support—my condolences to the family of Mr Johns. In doing so, though, I recognise that there is much to learn, and hopefully there will be some benefit from this when it comes to future incidences of swine flu in the ACT and any possible future fatalities. The family has come forward, I believe quite bravely, to outline what has happened in their case so that lessons can be learned in our ACT health system so that similar errors are not made again.

Significant hurt has been caused to the family that has accentuated their grieving, and I would just like to quote from what the family has said:

In this case many systems have let our dad and our family down on a number of levels, and there were additional significant mishandlings of this situation which we cannot be certain won't occur in the future. However, TCH has assured our family that it now has protocols in place to avoid future undue stress to families. And so, while our family cannot change recent events, we can at least encourage other families also who feel the systems have let them down to explore all avenues to better outcomes.

I certainly hope that through the very brave actions of Katie Sewell and her family and the regretful death of their father that better outcomes do eventuate from his tragic loss.

It is important also to put a human face on these sorts of tragedies. So often when we talk in this place or in the media we talk about statistics. Indeed, at lunchtime today I was doing media, as was the minister, and we were talking about statistics in relation to elective surgery. But when you are talking about 15 per cent and this number of people operated on or this number of fatalities, putting a human face on it is very


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