Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 17 March 2010) . . Page.. 954 ..


overseeing a 10-year war that has been occurring in Health. We have seen some of the shocking and very disturbing individual cases that have come out from time to time. We saw the case of Lachlan just this week, still waiting for surgery. Those individual cases speak of the human toll of when we do not get it right. They speak of the human toll when there is not leadership at the top, when there is not a minister who is prepared to make the hard decisions to get things done.

Often when we cite these individual cases, the government’s response is to say, “That’s disturbing and that’s sad, but that doesn’t reflect where things are at.” But we know that if we also look at a lot of the broader measures it does. In the case of Lachlan waiting for a long time, we know that many people in the ACT wait for a long time. In fact, they wait a lot longer than anywhere in the country, it seems. For elective surgery the time they wait is about double the national average.

The individual case speaks to the broader problem. The individual case puts a human face on the broader problem and the lack of management and leadership from this minister in the health system. She has overseen a massive blow-out in waiting lists. We have heard about the toxic culture. We have seen the distraction of the chasing and the disastrous handling of the Calvary deal, which led nowhere but, in the end, distracted a minister from fixing the serious issues in the health system.

The case of Vesna Nedic, which has been touched on by Mr Hanson in his speech, is worth reflecting on because, again, it shows a human face. It is worth just repeating some of the issues that have been raised in relation to Ms Nedic’s experience. Ms Nedic told Triple 6 ABC Canberra that her doctors advised her of the critical importance of radiation therapy as a follow-up treatment, but Ms Nedic says she was then left in the dark by Canberra Hospital before eventually being told she could not have the treatment in Canberra:

That was eight phone calls every day and none of them returned until finally I was having to get very upset at some poor administrative staff to be able to have the call put to the manager, who then told me, “We have a staff shortage,”.…

I think Ms Nedic has dealt with this issue in coming out and speaking about her experience not just courageously but also compassionately. She refers to the “poor administrative staff”. She recognises that the people she is dealing with are not the problem. They are simply dealing with the problem. They are simply the people who have to face those who are forced to go interstate for treatment.

Ms Nedic is not alone. She is one of 24 cancer patients who have to travel interstate for radiation therapy—24 patients who have to travel interstate, with all of the disruption that goes with that, with all of the cost that goes with that. I think Ms Nedic has shown great courage, as I say, but also great compassion. Even in her very difficult personal circumstances she is able to have compassion for some of those with whom she is dealing because she recognises they are not the problem.

The leadership has to come from the top and that is where I think, unfortunately, we are not getting it. Just last week in relation to this review of workplace culture we had a minister who went out there and said, “Well, we’re not going to tell you who’s


Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . PDF . . . . Video