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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 February 2018) . . Page.. 216 ..

These are the sorts of issues that I see the office having a key role in understanding and in bringing parties together to address from both the health and social determinant perspectives. The development of the territory-wide health services framework seeks to embed those principles as well.

On the question of the workforce, access to mental health professionals is a challenge that is being felt nationally. Here in the ACT we are not immune from this problem. One of my responses has been to raise this issue at the COAG health minister level. At the meeting in August last year I asked for work to be done on developing a national response to current mental health workforce issues. That work is currently being undertaken by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council. ACT Health are also actively working to address this problem in both the short and longer term.

Senior medical staff shortages within the directorate are being addressed by ongoing recruitment efforts led by the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist and the establishment of the medical workforce working group in August 2017. We are working with the staff to help us think about how we can attract more people to Canberra. When there is a national shortage, we are competing. We have to sell this city. We have to sell our passion for tackling mental health to make us an employer of choice and also overcome some of the reasons people sometimes do not want to come to Canberra. For all the reputational issues, people who live here know it is a great city to live in, but not everyone outside thinks that.

The working group’s remit is to develop a strategic plan which encompasses recruitment and retention strategies, projected population needs, workforce numbers, subspecialty skill mix requirements and local factors that are having an impact upon recruitment and retention of psychiatrists in the ACT public mental health system.

We also need to accept, though, that some people will need to go interstate. There are some specialties that we simply cannot provide here in the ACT. There will be times that it is appropriate for people to go interstate. That should not be the default position, but I think for some people it will be an unfortunate necessity because of the very specialised nature of their needs.

I will conclude. There is a lot more I could say. I would like to talk about this a lot more. But what I can say is that we are getting on with the job of establishing the office for mental health. We are having a great conversation with the community. There is detailed work being done at the moment.

I look forward to reporting back to the Assembly on that, as my amendment notes. But we are not standing still while we are doing that. There are service improvements going on right across the sector. There are new bits of work being funded. I am happy to report to the Assembly that we will continue to drive improvement in this sector as a way of making it better for Canberrans to tackle their mental health concerns.

MS FITZHARRIS (Yerrabi—Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Minister for Transport and City Services and Minister for Higher Education, Training and Research) (6.09): I am very pleased to speak to this motion today and, in particular, to

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