Page 1249 - Week 04 - Thursday, 5 May 2022
I should stress to Ms Castley that, obviously, I have formed a bit of a habit, and will be continuing that habit today, of encouraging the Assembly to refer important areas of public policy to committees for inquiry. I certainly think that is a perfectly legitimate thing to do, and I would encourage Ms Castley and all members of the Canberra Liberals to do that in future, when there is an important issue worthy of debate. But it seems superfluous to do so when an inquiry has been launched and the union is working on it.
In fact, as the ACT Greens spokesperson for health, I called the ANMF this morning and I asked them about their thoughts on this being on the notice paper. It was made categorically clear to me that there was no enthusiasm for an inquiry into Dhulwa at this time through the Standing Committee on Health and Community Wellbeing, because the union is working with the government to establish an inquiry with terms of reference that they agree to, with an independent chair, and with an expedited time frame to report back to government with some clear recommendations. That is a good way to do business, particularly when we have seen a number of alarming instances at the Dhulwa mental health facility.
I do not try to paint over the issues that Ms Castley raised, and I appreciate that she is raising them. I just find it incredibly cheeky for the Canberra Liberals to come into this place and try to take the credit for the achievements of working people through their union. This is a union victory, and that is why the union is working with government.
I would, though, say to Ms Castley and any member of this Assembly that, in later months, if the result of the independent inquiry into Dhulwa is that it does not resolve and fix the problems that people have identified, of course, referral to the Standing Committee on Health and Community Wellbeing may very well be warranted, and I would be the first to encourage that. But at this time let us not double up on work, particularly if the motivation is for a headline. Let us allow the work that the union has been collaborating on, in good faith, with the government to take place, to report on recommendations and then reflect, with cooler heads and calmer minds at that time, on what work is required later.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (11.17): I rise to speak in support of Ms Davidson’s amendments to Ms Castley’s motion. This is, of course, a very important issue. The government takes the safety of all of our staff, but particularly our nurses in the health system, very seriously. It has a range of work underway to address the challenges associated with occupational violence in healthcare settings—challenges that beset healthcare facilities across the country and, indeed, around the world, and challenges that have become increasingly recognised as not being okay just because they occur in a healthcare setting.
That is why the ACT government has been working closely with the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation for some years on the Towards a Safer Culture