Page 3427 - Week 10 - Thursday, 20 October 2022
MS CASTLEY: Minister, what was the rationale for temporarily closing the walk-in centre, rather than continuing with at least some level of regular walk-in service?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: If walk-in centres are going to be an effective diversion from the emergency department, people need to have certainty about the opening hours. Obviously, we have had to reduce opening hours at Tuggeranong walk-in centre at periods due to staff shortages and consolidate our services. We tried to communicate that very clearly to the community—where Tuggeranong walk-in centre has been either closed or on reduced hours—but, even then, despite our best efforts, we were seeing people turning up to the walk-in centre expecting it to be open, finding it closed and having to be redirected.
As I said, if these walk-in centres are going to be an effective diversion from the emergency department, people have to have certainty: that if we say it is open from 7.30 am to 10 pm, seven days a week, 365 a year, it has to be open and it has to be able to support people. What we want to be able to do is provide that certainty of service. We were not able to do that with the pressures that our hospital system, like every other hospital system, was facing through COVID-19, and while operating the COVID-19 walk-in clinic at Garran surge centre.
Ms Castley has gone out in the media multiple times saying that we did not use the surge centre for anything and what was the purpose of it. Actually, it operated a very effective and very highly regarded walk-in centre for people who were positive to COVID-19. The staff were redeployed from the inner north to do that, and we needed to ensure that that service could also be operational.
MS LAWDER: My question is to the Minister for Health. Will the Dickson walk-in centre return to at least the same level of service or better than before it was temporarily closed?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Yes.
DR PATERSON: My question is to the Chief Minister and Treasurer. Chief Minister, now that we are midway through this term of the Assembly, can you please provide an update on the recovery of the labour market in the ACT.
MR BARR: I thank Dr Paterson for the question. I am pleased to advise we again have the strongest labour market in the country and this is a key driver for the territory’s nation-leading population growth. For almost 12 months job vacancies in the ACT have significantly exceeded the number of unemployed people in the territory. Unemployment is low. We are at, or very close to, full employment. Today’s ABS Labour Force, Australia data confirms the trend we have seen for some time now. The government is delivering on our commitment for the protection and creation of secure jobs for as many Canberrans as possible.