Page 1248 - Week 04 - Thursday, 5 May 2022

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Whilst the inquiry is a critical body of work, I recognise that it will necessarily take some time to conduct properly and make a report on its work. I am grateful to the ANMF for the productive conversations that we have had over recent weeks, and I am very optimistic that the work will make long and lasting impacts on how we provide services in what can be a complex and challenging environment.

It is clearly important that the inquiry reflects on the recent history at Dhulwa and learns any lessons that need to be applied. However, it is also crucial that the inquiry and its subsequent report talk to us about the future. To be absolutely clear, I am committed to getting this work done as quickly as is safely possible. It is, however, important that the work is done properly and the expert team that we appoint has the space, time, freedom and flexibility to complete its work in a way that respects all opinions, hears all perspectives, deals with the complexity of providing services in a place like Dhulwa and helps to place us on a path to a brighter future for Dhulwa.

I do not agree that this matter should be referred to the standing committee right now, as Ms Castley outlines in her motion. There may be validity in the committee looking at the topic in the future, but I do not believe that concurrent inquiries would be helpful at this stage. We have initiated an independent and expert-led inquiry with a wide remit to look at clinical, legal and governance frameworks, and it is important that it is able to complete its work.

Mental health service delivery is hard work, and I value the work that our dedicated staff do every day. I am committed to supporting the inquiry and I am committed to ensuring that the inquiry’s work places Dhulwa in a position to be a nation-leading mental health facility, a place where people aspire to work and a place which delivers consistently high quality outcomes for the people who use its services.

MR DAVIS (Brindabella) (11.13): I rise in support of the amendments circulated by Minister Davidson. In doing so I congratulate comrades in the ANMF on their hard work and advocacy on behalf of their members to secure an inquiry, as their members suggested, which is why I was surprised to see this motion on the notice paper this week.

To take members through it, or anyone listening, just one more time, the chronology of this is rather clear. On 5 April the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation asked the government to conduct an inquiry. On 2 May, less than one month later, the union succeeded in their representations to the government, and the government has committed to conducting such an inquiry. It is not a closed shop, behind closed doors inquiry; it is an inquiry in which the union have been engaging with the minister to establish the terms of reference that suit the union, an independent chair that suits the union, and it is advised by expert evidence.

This is, in fact, a perfect and timely demonstration of the power of working people collectively organising, joining their union and making representations to government. It is a reflection of how a progressive Labor-Greens government responds to working people when they make such representations, because within a month an inquiry has been launched.

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