Page 1825 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 8 June 2022

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secretary of the Firefighters Union going nationally, telling other states and jurisdictions how good the ACT has been to them in making this arrangement and recruiting firefighters for the future.

MS CASTLEY: Minister, where else is money being spent within the services, rather than on frontline crew?

MR GENTLEMAN: It is usually capital expenditure: new stations, new fire trucks, new ambulances and, as I said, electric stretchers. We were one of the first jurisdictions to ensure that we could support the needs of ambulance officers in the workplace by using new technologies. When we look at supporting the staff on the ground, I think that new technologies are supportive of that. At the same time, we are making sure that we recruit new officers, not just to take up the positions of those people who are retiring but to increase the broader strength of our first-line responders.

Canberra Hospital—alleged bullying

MS CASTLEY: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, I refer to reports from the cardiology department in the Canberra Hospital that state that “staff within Canberra Hospital’s cardiology department have reported shocking behaviours from some colleagues, including swearing, screaming, kicking doors and throwing objects”. The report also states that the behaviour included “allegedly consistent bullying of trainees, nurses, allied health and administration teams for, in some cases, more than a decade”. Minister, we are aware that some staff have been stood down recently, but why was this behaviour allowed to continue for over a decade?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Castley for the question. I do thank her for acknowledging that action is being taken in relation to these matters. Ms Castley would be aware that in 2018 there was a significant review of culture, and the need for reform in culture and to improve the culture across ACT public health services. That is a process that we have been taking very seriously. There has been a range of work underway, both across territory-wide health services to establish frameworks for action and also deep dives into those areas that have been identified as having particular culture challenges associated with them. This is detailed work that needs to be done in order to support the action that might be taken in response to these issues.

Ms Castley is right; in some circumstances these have been longstanding issues. There has been, for various reasons, historical reluctance to take action against some people, particularly where those people are senior figures. I hasten to add that I am not commenting on any individual matters in relation to this. The message that the Canberra Health Services CEO has been sending to staff, through the actions that have recently been taken, is that these actions will no longer be tolerated. Inconsistency with the values of the organisation is no longer acceptable in Canberra Health Services, and they will not just be talking the talk; they will be walking the walk. I think the CEO has been very clear about that. But the process itself needs to be fair, and it needs to be underpinned by those very detailed investigations that have occurred in a number of areas where those challenges have been identified.

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