Page 1250 - Week 04 - Thursday, 5 May 2022
strategy, which I will talk about a bit more, and why Canberra Health Services in 2020 launched an occupational violence strategy to specifically address this issue.
As Ms Davidson’s amendments indicate, Dhulwa is a particularly challenging environment. It is a secure mental health facility that sometimes accommodates patients who have very complex needs and behaviours, and who are there in part because they present a risk to public safety and cannot be cared for in other settings across the territory. It does require a specific response. That specific response needs to be supported by expertise, and that is why the range of inquiries that Ms Davidson has listed are so important—to bring in the expertise of WorkSafe ACT; to bring in the expertise of the Human Rights Commission through the Health Services Commissioner; to bring in the expertise of the New South Wales experts that Ms Davidson talked about; and to bring in the expertise, as agreed with the ANMF and its members, through this independent inquiry.
With all due respect to the three members of the health and community wellbeing standing committee of this place, I do not think any of them would claim to have expertise in the management of a secure mental health facility. Indeed, I do not think any of them would claim to have specific expertise in the management of occupational violence within a facility. Even if it were an appropriate time, which I do not believe it is, for the standing committee to be considering these matters, having regard to the detail in Ms Castley’s motion about the referral that she is proposing to the health and community wellbeing standing committee, it is very hard to see how the standing committee would be the appropriate mechanism to engage in this level of operational detail about a secure mental health facility.
The range of expertise that is being brought to bear on this matter is far more appropriate. Indeed, the independent inquiry that Minister Davidson has commissioned is exactly what the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, its members at Dhulwa and the opposition themselves have been calling for. This motion is nothing more than an opportunity for Ms Castley to criticise Minister Davidson, despite the fact that Minister Davidson has done exactly what Ms Castley had been calling for previously.
I do note that in Ms Castley’s motion she has repeated a term that is a quote from one of the ANMF’s members likening working at Dhulwa to being sent into the killing fields. I am really disappointed, and I want to record my disappointment, in Ms Castley for including this in the motion. We were advised by Canberra Health Services, while I was Acting Minister for Mental Health and I was keeping a very close eye on this matter, that the use of that term had been highly distressing to some members of Canberra Health Services staff.
Canberra Health Services has a proudly multicultural staff, including a number of Cambodian staff members. I immediately advised Ms Castley that continued use of this term was causing distress to some members of Canberra Health Services staff, yet she chose to include that in the motion. Despite that advice, despite thanking me for that advice, she chose to continue to use this term that has caused distress to Canberra Health Services staff, in a motion about occupational violence.