Page 880 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 29 March 2023

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I cannot stress enough—bold print and underlined!—the value of seeking briefings on these complex and substantive issues. I encourage other members, particularly in the opposition, to do the same. The minister has assured me, through my briefings—as the amendment notes—that suspending the accreditation of the training unit does not mean that services will no longer be provided to the community. If people get nothing else out of my contribution here today, I think that assurance is really, really valuable.

I would like to take this opportunity to stress the importance of excellent maternal health services in the broad. My ACT Greens colleague Ms Clay is championing the importance of giving people the very best care and more choice about where they give birth. A freestanding birth centre creates space where women and people who can get pregnant can give birth outside of the hospital, with low risk, freeing up limited specialist resources for those people who require a specialist unit such as that referred to in Ms Castley’s motion.

People who give birth outside of a hospital setting are much less likely to experience the cascade of interventions that leads to unnecessary C-sections, for example. It also provides the ability to, frankly, save Canberra Health Services money. It is a much more affordable way for women and people who can get pregnant to give birth, and that allows the government to redirect vital funds into other specialist services. I was very glad to see the health minister, and the government more broadly, commit to the early design of a freestanding birth centre alongside the north-side hospital. I commend my colleague Ms Clay for her sustained advocacy on this issue.

I thank Ms Castley for her motion. I thank Minister Stephen-Smith for briefings and assurances that services and training at the Fetal Medicine Unit are being prioritised, that they will be maintained into the long term and that the government takes very seriously its responsibility to Canberrans to recruit and retain a high quality, capable medical specialist who can sustain the services into the long term. A return to the unit’s training accreditation is important but must be done diligently and with the right people to ensure the unit’s ongoing, sustainable provision of services to Canberrans.

MS CASTLEY (Yerrabi) (3.32): Again we see another amendment that seeks to remove the body of everything that I wanted to say. It is an incredibly important issue. What we have here is a unit that is in trouble. It has had its training accreditation suspended, and CHS have known about this for a long time. This is a really serious issue. We know that other staff members are leaving; they are going on leave without pay and long service leave. There is a lot going on here and it is important for the minister to understand why so many people in this unit are leaving.

Junior doctors also can no longer do their training in Canberra until this accreditation is reinstated. Pregnant Canberra mums and those in the southern district deserve to know what is happening here. That is why my motion calls on—I do not need to go through them—the government to do four really detailed things. I thank the minister; she has tabled the letter and answered a number of our questions today. However, the Canberra Liberals will not be supporting the amendment.

As I said, with the “notes”, there is a great deal of supporting detail, and it is critical in helping us to understand the issues at hand. But the “calls ons” in the motion have


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