Page 3207 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 18 October 2022

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MR COCKS: Were conversations held with the health staff who reported those 1,065 cases of mental stress, and did any of those workers ask for a wellbeing fund?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mr Cocks for the supplementary question. Absolutely; the reason that we have established the wellbeing fund in the way that we have, with this co-design process, is specifically a response to the engagement with staff, particularly across Canberra Health Services, but also in the Health Directorate. Both have had very strong evidence based wellbeing strategies in place, but as a result of some very difficult matters that have occurred over the last year or so, there has been engagement directly with staff, inviting them to put forward ideas about what could be done to support their wellbeing.

This is exactly a result of conversations with staff who have experienced significant psychological impacts of their work. We know that it is partly occupational violence, as I was talking about in response to a previous question, and partly in relation to trauma. We know that within our health services there can be very difficult circumstances that our healthcare workers face. They support individuals and families who have very difficult experiences in the system, and the vicarious trauma associated with that, or the direct trauma associated with that, can be really quite damaging. We know that we need to do better in supporting those individuals who experience that trauma, and that is exactly what our health services are focused on doing.

ACT public service—cultural and linguistic diversity

MR CAIN: My question is to the Minister for Multicultural Affairs. Minister, I have recently read the State of the Service annual report produced by CMTEDD for 2021-22. I note—and my reference is page 65—that, every year since 2017, the average salary for CALD ACT public service staff has not met the ACT public service average. In fact, the gap between the average for the ACT public service and the CALD average has significantly widened since 2017. Minister, were you aware of this, and what reasons do you think are behind it?

MS CHEYNE: I think Mr Cain’s question is asking for an expression of opinion, which under the standing orders is not appropriate.

Mr Cain: No; it is a question.

MADAM SPEAKER: I do not believe he is.

MS CHEYNE: He said, “What reasons do you think.”

Mr Cain: Well, you are the minister responsible.

Ms Lee: On a point of order, Madam Speaker: the question was: are you aware of this issue—it is her ministerial responsibility—and what is the reason? It did not ask for an expression of opinion.

MADAM SPEAKER: You could interpret, and a good lot of questions have been hypothetical or expressions of interest, but they have been allowed to be asked—

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