Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 3228..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
therapy assistants, physiotherapy assistants and speech pathology assistants will graduate from CIT at the end of 2007. Further certificate IV allied health assistants in other disciplines such as nutrition and podiatry are being investigated in consultation with stakeholder groups.
In relation to scholarships, the allied health postgraduate scholarships scheme funded by ACT Health commenced in July 2004. The primary aim of the scheme is a retention strategy as well as to contribute to a positive learning environment that increases knowledge and skills of allied health staff in ACT Health.
The number of applications received in the February 2006 round was a 200 per cent increase since the scheme commenced in July 2004. Scholarship recipients have been across 13 allied health disciplines, and since the scheme was introduced, the ACT Health separation rate for health professionals has significantly decreased from 15.9 per cent in July 2004 to 10 per cent during December 2005-January 2006. Scholarship recipients stated that the scholarship was an important consideration in choosing to remain with ACT Health when receiving offers of employment external to ACT Health. Some recipients progressed their career path within ACT Health.
ACT Health also funds the allied health undergraduate scholarship scheme. The scheme was piloted in 2005 and is primarily a recruitment strategy that targets allied health professionals, who are difficult to recruit not only because of workforce shortages but also because there is no training school in Canberra. A total of five undergraduate scholarships were offered in 2005, three to radiation therapy students and two to podiatry students. It has been a highly effective strategy to date. Both schemes will be evaluated late this year.
From that brief outline of the different strategies we have in place to invest in health education, promotion of retention strategies and looking at ways to diversify the workforce and retrain people, members will see that the ACT government has invested heavily in health education.
I want to quickly mention Mr Smyth's amendments. Unfortunately, due to Exercise Cumpston, I was not able to hear his comments, but I understand that Mr Smyth quoted from the annual report. I would have to check the Hansard, but I believe that the figures that Mr Smyth quoted are not comparable.
My understanding is that there has been no reduction in training hours or support for training. I think that what Mr Smyth did was compare the stats in last year's annual report to this year's annual report, and my advice is that these are not tertiary training statistics, which is what the motion refers to. As indicated by the footnotes on pages 81 and 82 of the annual report, these figures do not include in-services, and that is because the information came from the wards. However, when we consider that the number of in-service education training sessions has increased from 782 to 1,226 and the number of staff in-service education training sessions has increased from 7,489 to 12,179, there is no doubt that training investment has increased.
MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (3.30), in reply: I have risen very slowly because it was my understanding that Dr Foskey wished to speak to this motion as well. She is not here-