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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 February 2010) . . Page.. 632 ..


and private systems to ensure that women in the ACT have access to the highest quality obstetrics services; and

(4) notes that findings of the external opinion on clinical standards, safety, relationship between midwives and doctors, and sustainability of the registrar training program will be made publicly available.”.

The amendment goes to the issues that have been raised. It acknowledges the importance of establishing processes which allow for procedural fairness and natural justice. I strongly believe that an inquiry under the Inquiries Act would be a witch-hunt. I think that is what would happen. I am not certain that people would feel more comfortable about participating in a public inquiry before judicial officers. If that is your concern, there are more protections available to witnesses raising concerns through public interest disclosure.

The Inquiries Act protects people while the inquiry is underway and, I think, protects the judicial officers involved. But it does not have the longer lasting powers of protection that the Public Interest Disclosure Act has, for instance. If your real issue is providing protection and support for employees who may want to come forward, I would suggest that the Public Interest Disclosure Act is there for that reason and offers much greater protection and longer lasting protection for staff.

The issues for the individuals involved need to be very clear in terms of procedural fairness and natural justice, which I believe have not been followed at all in the prosecution of the arguments that have been put to date. I am concerned, as well, that if an inquiry was established under the Inquiries Act it would seriously jeopardise the public obstetric service because I think some people would resign. I cannot say that for sure, but that would have ramifications for how we provide a public service to the community. Part of what we have to do whilst we go through these processes is ensure that the public service, which I hope—and I think it is—is the premier choice for women in the territory, remains so.

In relation to my amendment, I also ask the Assembly to note that the findings of the external opinion on clinical standards, safety, relationship issues between midwives and doctors and sustainability of the registrar training program will be made publicly available when it is completed. I have committed to an external process, which is what people have asked for. I note that at the meeting the doctors indicated they were happy with that process. Their requirements were that it should be external, independent, protect witnesses and ensure fairness. My process does exactly that.

MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (4.07): We have come to this motion today largely due to allegations of bullying and harassment within the maternity unit of the Canberra Hospital. In order to examine the best means for resolving these problems, we need to examine the nature of bullying and harassment itself. Bullying and harassment, at its core, is a health and safety issue, but due to the complex nature of the human interactions involved it is much more difficult to deal with than traditional safety issues.

Bullying and harassment cannot be dealt with in the same manner as other workplace accidents or incidents. Addressing bullying and harassment at an individual level


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