Page 2915 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 12 October 2022

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decisions being made in healthcare settings like our hospital. But, of course, as we grow from the pandemic, I would like us thinking quite deliberatively and purposefully with the community about how we keep people out of the hospital in the first place.

A lot of our commentary around health funding, where we are spending, where we are not spending, and some of the key numbers that we use to measure the success or failure of our health system, seems to be specifically around the hospital. I would like us thinking, with time, more about how we can keep people out of hospital, getting care in their community, delivering care for themselves, living healthy and active lives, to hopefully keep them out of healthcare settings in particular. It is one of the reasons that the ACT Greens are such big supporters of our nurse-led walk-in healthcare centres. I think it is a huge credit to the staff of our nurse-led walk-in healthcare centres here in the ACT that we do keep many, many, people out of hospital.

I have raised with the minister and her office some of my reservations around the current triaging process funded in the budget, which is to walk-in clinic-like services provided at the emergency room. I would really like us to keep a focus on keeping people out of the emergency room where we can and receiving health care in community from those nurse-led walk-in centres where we can.

I have received a lot of correspondence from my constituents in Tuggeranong about some of the challenges based on staffing over the short history of the Tuggeranong nurse-led walk-in centre. Of course, the investments made in the budget to recruit and retain a high-quality frontline healthcare workforce is really, really, important. I do think, though, that we have to prioritise one of those two, recruitment or retention. It would be great to do both well, but, if I could put my two cents in here, I really think the priority must be on retention.

I say that as somebody who has spent a lot of time talking to the high-quality staff we are already blessed to have in Canberra Health Services in ACT Health. We have some of the finest in the country. We should be really, really, proud of that, and we should be concerned that many of them, based on their unions’ own reporting’s, seem to be finding their way to the door. I am not sure that we could throw enough money at recruitment to replace the current talent that we may risk losing if we do not address some of these short- to medium-term challenges that that frontline healthcare workforce are identifying for us.

One of the other key things that I really want to mention in the budget—a bit of a niche one but one that I am really quite interested in as the Greens spokesperson for drug harm reduction—is the funding in the budget for the development and then delivery of the Drug Strategy Action Plan. The government has committed $13 million in additional support. That is in addition to the $20 million of investments that have been made over the last three years to improve drug and alcohol services for the community. I will be the first to tell you that it is not nearly enough. It is not nearly enough, based on the feedback that we have received from stakeholders during the inquiry work on Mr Pettersson’s private members bill to decriminalise drug use. It is not nearly enough, based on the work the ACT Greens did prior to the last election to develop our policy initiatives, which were to double funding.

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