Page 1828 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 8 June 2022

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equal access to education right at the start will set up children with the tools and support that they need.

DR PATERSON: Minister, how does reducing the cost of early learning contribute to gender equality?

MS BERRY: I thank Dr Paterson for the supplementary question. The commitment to reduce the cost of early learning will make it more accessible for Canberra families because it has flow-on effects, not just for the child’s development but for creating a more gender-equal community. Across the country, women continue to do the majority of unpaid domestic labour and care-related work, and the impacts of the pandemic have exacerbated this gender imbalance. Often for households where one of the parents or carers is a woman, she will forego extra paid work to stay at home with children. There are many compounding reasons for this. Firstly, it speaks to the traditional and harmful gender roles which form an expectation that women will be the primary carers. It also goes to the fact that women are more heavily concentrated in insecure, lower-paid work, preferencing the work of the male parent for the financial security of the household. This means that making early learning more affordable will not force families to make a choice about foregoing work to do the unpaid work for caring and educating children.

This supports workforce participation and allows more women to pursue their paid careers. Ensuring that women can equally participate in a workforce contributes to creating a more gender-equal community, where they are not disadvantaged by caring responsibilities. It is great to have this commitment from the federal Labor government to make early learning more affordable, which will have massive flow-on effects for Canberra families and the community more broadly.

Canberra Hospital—cardiology department staffing

MS CASTLEY: My question is to the health minister. The Canberra Times reported on 5 June that staff from Canberra Hospital’s cardiology department have reported some doctors rostered on for duty were often not actually in the hospital and would not always answer their phones. The article said several senior staff across multiple departments have been let go over the past six months. Minister, if doctors rostered on for duty in the cardiology department are often not actually in the hospital, where are they?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I cannot possibly fathom how Ms Castley would imagine that I could answer that question. What I will do, to help her out, is to provide a little bit of background on the cardiology issue.

In relation to cardiology, a report in 2020 known as the Johns review was largely commissioned to review the services provided by the cardiology unit with a view to improving quality of service delivery to the community. Following discussion with a large number of CHS employees, the review also provided some observations regarding the culture of the unit. A project manager resource was appointed to facilitate the implementation of the report, with most recommendations having been implemented. That is really around the quality issues that were identified.

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