Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 7 Hansard (28 June) . . Page.. 2655..
MR HANSON: A supplementary, Mr Speaker.
MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Hanson.
MR HANSON: Minister, what is the difference between your promises of April 2009 and your promise in your ministerial statement last week? Was it more empty rhetoric?
MS GALLAGHER: No, it is not empty rhetoric. I think if you go back to 2009 you will see that there was improvement that was sustained over about a 12-month period in improving access in the emergency department. That was down to the hard work of staff in redesigning flow within the emergency department at both public hospitals.
What we have seen in the last 12 months is that the emergency departments have been inundated with demand and that the staff have struggled, particularly in categories 3 and 4, to maintain improvements in those categories. But what has happened is that for the most urgent patients, categories 1 and 2, we have maintained timeliness and are meeting national benchmarks there, for the most serious presentations to the emergency department, and there has been considerable growth in category 2 presentations as well. So, yes, there is more work to be done. We need to continue to educate the community that the emergency department is for emergencies and that there are other options for people to seek medical treatment if they need it. Obviously, the emergency departments remain there for anyone who is concerned for their health. But one of the issues we have been dealing with in the past 11 months or so is the incredible workload which, from my discussions with emergency department staff, is unprecedented in this place. I think that overall the staff there do an excellent job.
Justice—Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
MS PORTER: Mr Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Attorney-General. Attorney, what steps have the ACT government taken to reduce overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the criminal justice system as both victims and offenders?
MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Porter for the question. Of course members would know, and it is a well-documented fact, that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are overrepresented in our criminal justice system, both as offenders and as victims, and that this is a direct consequence of poverty and of disadvantage stemming from their historical social exclusion and alienation since European settlement. The government has been working very hard to build a strong, productive relationship with Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here in the ACT.
In 2006, I was very proud to join in the establishment of the Aboriginal Justice Centre. The Aboriginal Justice Centre provides and coordinates the support services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the territory and provides a really great range of programs, including the interview friend program that supports Indigenous people in their encounters with the police and encourages them to cooperate and work with police; the men's group front-up program, making sure that