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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 2 Hansard (21 February) . .

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territory. It is certainly the case, and it has been discussed in the chamber before, that there have been instances in certain departments around issues of bullying and workplace culture. There have been a number of processes put in place to remediate that, led by the director-general, and reinforced under consecutive ministers.

It has also been the case that there have been a number of discussions nationally, with relevant employee representatives and the various colleges and representatives of doctors, nurses and allied health staff, that the culture in hospitals around the country needs to improve. That is certainly a priority. I think that the culture, the investment, the connections between ACT Health and our higher education sector, and the general livability of Canberra are things that we would really like to stress to health professionals around the country, who can come here and work in a new facility like the University of Canberra hospital, and indeed in the future in other new and upgraded facilities like the Centenary hospital and also the new SPIRE centre at Canberra Hospital.

Health—meningococcal immunisation program

MR STEEL: My question is to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing: why is the ACT government rolling out a meningococcal ACWY immunisation program?

MS FITZHARRIS: I thank Mr Steel very much for the question. As members will know, meningococcal disease is serious. It is caused by multiple strains of the meningococcal bacteria. Most illness in Australia is caused by the B, W and Y strains. Although it is uncommon, meningococcal disease can become life threatening very quickly. It can also cause significant disability, including from chronic pain, skin scarring and neurological impairment.

The ACT is pleased to be introducing a meningococcal ACYW vaccination program to protect young people and the community broadly from the emerging public health threat in Australia posed by meningococcal W. Since 2014 meningococcal W and Y cases have increased in numbers across Australia. Meningococcal W disease is associated with a higher chance of dying compared with disease from other strains circulating in Australia.

This important vaccination will be offered to students this year and is based on older teenagers and young adults being at increased risk of meningococcal disease as they are more likely to carry the bacteria in their nose and throat and more likely to spread the bacteria to others. The vaccination program aims to protect young people and reduce risks for the community as a whole by decreasing the number of people carrying the bacteria in their nose and throat. This is why we have taken the decision to respond to this issue proactively by providing a free immunisation to adolescents.

MR STEEL: Minister, could you outline how the program will be rolled out?

MS FITZHARRIS: ACT Health has begun rolling out this program just this week by introducing a funded meningococcal ACWY vaccination program into ACT high schools, given that adolescents face an increased risk. The school-based vaccination


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