Page 4179 - Week 12 - Thursday, 1 December 2022

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Anyway, to all of you, I wish you all the best. Merry Christmas and see you all in the new year.


MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (4.49): In preparing this speech I looked back at my final COVID update for the Assembly in 2021, as a reminder of where our journey has taken us this year on our path towards living with COVID as an ongoing endemic disease. I want to recognise the impact of this very difficult year on our frontline health workers—from starting the year with our largest COVID wave to an incredibly tough winter, not only due to COVID but also to an early flu season and the impact of illness and quarantine on workforce availability, as well as healthcare demand.

The CHS accreditation took place during this busy winter, and over the past couple of months everyone got stuck into training and preparation for the digital health record go-live on 12 November. To Peter O’Halloran and Sandra Cook, and hundreds of people in the DHR team, thank you and congratulations. On behalf of all Canberrans, thank you to every single person on the front line of our health system—nurses, midwives, doctors, allied health professionals, cleaners, wardspeople, support staff and volunteers.

I also want to recognise our health system leaders, who have truly led throughout the year. Rebecca Cross, Director-General of the ACT Health Directorate, and her deputy for most of the year, Deb Anton, have led an enormous amount of policy work, and navigated the complexities of both COVID and commonwealth-state relations.

Thank you also to the Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerryn Coleman and her team, especially the indefatigable Vanessa Dal Molin, who is truly worth her weight in gold. Dave Peffer and Cathie O’Neill have led CHS with an absolute commitment to its values: reliable, progressive, respectful and kind. They have taken some hard decisions this year to deliver a safer workplace for staff and patients. As Dr Nick Taylor recently described it, CHS is on a journey from eminence-based medicine, where senior clinicians are never questioned, to evidence-based medicine, in an environment where every team member is empowered to speak up for safety. They have been recruiting some very impressive senior staff, who will really drive this necessary change.

To Duncan Edghill, Martin Little and the Canberra Hospital expansion team at Major Projects Canberra, this major project remains on track despite the challenging weather and supply chain environment; and I want to wish Duncan all the very best for whatever comes next.

I turn to Catherine Rule, Jo Wood, Anne-Maree Sabellico and the rest of the leadership team at the Community Services Directorate. The directorate has experienced significant churn in senior leadership over recent years, and it is great to know we now have a stable and united team to deliver a very large reform agenda across Child, Youth and Family Services, and Community Services more broadly.

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