Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 2 Hansard (21 February) . .
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I absolutely reject the assertion that I am disregarding the will of the Assembly.
MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing. Welcome back. I refer to a report in the Canberra Times of 21 February about the Health Services Union raising concerns about the tearoom currently used by their members, who are wardsmen and ward clerks, having asbestos potentially present in the glue in the floor tiles. The union also raised concerns about their members being bullied by senior hospital staff. Minister, what actions have you taken to assure yourself that asbestos is not present in the tearoom at the Canberra Hospital used by HSU members or elsewhere on site at the Canberra Hospital?
MS FITZHARRIS: I thank Mrs Dunne for the question. I am pleased to be back. Certainly there have been a number of discussions with both the union and the workforce at Canberra Hospital. The advice to me is that the room has been inspected recently by third-party experts and has been rated normal, with the likelihood of no exposure to airborne asbestos under normal building use.
MRS DUNNE: I note that the minister did not answer most of the question. Minister, what actions have you taken to assure yourself that union members and other staff are not being bullied at the hospital by senior staff?
MS FITZHARRIS: I have sought advice from the directorate. There is certainly an ongoing discussion between ACT Health and me around my very clear expectations that communication is open, transparent and frequent, not only with our external stakeholders but, even more importantly, with our own workforce.
I have asked ACT Health to follow up on this issue raised by the HSU. I was disappointed to see it in the first instance, but ACT Health have today met with the HSU. I am also advised that this relocation was first raised with staff on 7 November 2017. There were three follow-up meetings that took place and frequent dialogue with the relevant area, including the development of all staff communications throughout January leading up to relocation works in early February.
There appears to have been a gap. I have asked ACT Health to immediately follow up on that. There is no tolerance of bullying in ACT Health and I am confident that that is the view of ACT Health leadership. I have reiterated on a number of occasions that I expect all staff in ACT Health to adhere to a culture of zero bullying and also to build a very healthy culture within ACT Health, which is one of the territory's most significant employers.
MR PARTON: Minister, what impact do the poor physical condition of Canberra Hospital and the history of poor culture have on our ability to recruit staff?
MS FITZHARRIS: Indeed, as Mr Parton will know, earlier this week we announced that there is significant work underway to attract even more health professionals to the
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