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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 2 Hansard (19 March) . . Page.. 525..


reports through the school websites. Quality schools will provide better support for and engagement with parents and families, including advice on how best to contribute to their children's learning at home.

There are other things that parents can look for when they visit a school and think about what school is best for their sons or daughters. They include school leadership. Does the principal ensure that good policies and practices are in place to engage with students and families? Does the school have high expectations about their staff and students? Does the school have strategies to strengthen and maximise student engagement? Is the school attractive, clean, well presented and have areas where staff and parents can talk and will want to be?

When I visit schools I can see that these questions are answered always in the positive and I have a great confidence in our ACT schools.

Canberra Hospital—stem cell treatment

MS LAWDER: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, recent media reports and constituent representations have highlighted issued concerning adult stem cell treatment at the Canberra Hospital for patients with MS. At some time in 2012 it was decided that the Canberra Hospital would not continue with this treatment for patients with MS. Instead, patients were referred interstate. Two reasons apparently given for stopping treatment in the ACT were that the procedure required multidisciplinary resources and that costs were too high. Minister, why was a patient in the ACT who was receiving potentially lifesaving treatment told they were not going to be treated because the cost was too high?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms Lawder for the question. Certainly the decision around not providing that treatment was not based on cost alone, although this is something more generally we have to look at across the health system. The volume was very low. Also, it is an experimental stage of that treatment. There are mixed views amongst the profession about that type of treatment and what particular type of patient that treatment might be suitable for. The treatment at Canberra Hospital was not provided with ethics approval, which is required under this type of early-stage treatment. I know there are doctors who were involved who have a different opinion to that. But the very strong advice from the research ethics committee was that this treatment should not be approved for Canberra Hospital.

I have to say that I do not think I am in a position to challenge the expert opinion of an ethics committee which makes these decisions very professionally with advice and support in areas of their own expertise and which has always acted with the public interest in mind.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Lawder.

MS LAWDER: Minister, what were the changes that took place that meant the ACT no longer had appropriate teams or could not afford to treat our own patients when we had been doing so for some years?


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