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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 9 Hansard (16 September) . .

Page.. 2732..

There is, as we speak, a lot of work being done by the executive team at the adult mental health unit to ensure that staff concerns, where they can be addressed in the short term, are being addressed, and that has been done by the addition of some staff. But in my discussions with ACT Health, it also goes to how much training and other support we can provide staff as well. Some of the issues that have been identified by staff are not necessarily going to be addressed just by providing extra staff into the mix.

So there is a lot of work underway. No-one is downplaying the seriousness of some of the issues or the positions that some of our staff have found themselves in. ACT Health are, in advice to me, responding appropriately.

This is the reason why we have PINs as well. Whilst we do not want them in place, they are there to serve a purpose. They put a formal engagement around how the employer addresses employee safety concerns, and that is exactly what is happening now. ACT Health are working with WorkSafe, with the ANMF and with staff, delegates and representatives in the workplace to address their concerns.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mrs Jones.

MRS JONES: Minister, what are you doing to address the increased number of attacks on staff and to deal with the provisional improvement notice, or do you maintain that the nature of this workplace means that it is unable to be made safe?

MS GALLAGHER: I will stand here and argue that you will not find a mental health unit in the country that does not have patient aggression as an issue that staff need to deal with. I think anyone who pretends otherwise does not understand the patient requirements. In terms of can it be made safe and should it be made safe, yes; as much as it can be it should be, and that is exactly what is happening now. There are additional staff going in, and the post-occupancy review will inform—

Mr Hanson: It is unacceptable.

MS GALLAGHER: You say it is unacceptable.

Mr Hanson: Yes I do.

MS GALLAGHER: The patient load, the patient presentation with particular conditions, means we will not ever be able to remove aggression from patients towards staff as part of a mental health unit. You simply cannot do that. Can you minimise risks to staff? Can you minimise those risks as much as they can be? Yes, you can and you should, and that is exactly what is happening.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Hanson.

MR HANSON: Minister, why has it taken the issuing of a provisional improvement notice for you to address this issue of violence against nurses in the adult mental health unit?

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