Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 February 2018) . . Page.. 218 ..
As has been mentioned, some areas of the ACT Health workforce are experiencing some challenges, and we are facing this head-on. Work on a workforce attraction strategy is well underway. This piece of work will address workforce issues with both the attraction and retention of specialists, as well as health staff more broadly, and, as Minister Rattenbury noted, including mental health professionals with a focus on the field of child and adolescent mental health.
Through this work we will seek to attract specialists and other health staff to what is one of the world’s most livable cities, and to highlight the significant investments in health services and health infrastructure that are on this government’s agenda, many of which are already funded, as well as the incredible health workforce we have here, and the move to a high performing, innovative and patient-centred system. It is a health system which is undergoing a process of reform and growth, with, accordingly, investments in infrastructure, services and people.
This work will also celebrate our proximity to opportunities for research and training collaboration, with strong relationships with renowned local universities. This combined work will drive the future of the healthcare workforce, attracting health professionals to make this great city their home.
I was pleased, while attending the health ministers meeting last year, that there was a special session on mental health, in which Minister Rattenbury raised the issue of the mental health workforce. All ministers across the country agreed with his recommendations that further work needed to be undertaken in this space, acknowledging the ACT’s leadership in this area.
Minister Rattenbury and I look forward to continuing to work on the territory-wide health services plan, with mental health as one of our key priorities, so that we can ensure improved integration of mental health and health services for all Canberrans.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (6.14): I acknowledge the amendment that was circulated. Unfortunately, it was circulated after I began speaking. It was a bit of a shame—considering that this notice has been on the notice paper since Monday—that the minister would not share that with the mover of the motion until the mover was on her feet and speaking. If we are talking about the right way to do things, we all have lessons to learn.
The amendment is broadly acceptable in that paragraphs (1) and (3) are broadly in the same tone as my paragraphs (1) and (2). I should acknowledge that the minister has been candid about workforce and other issues. My principal complaint today is with the delay in the establishment of the office for mental health. When I was first briefed about this, there was not a starting date, but it was to be as soon as possible, and they wanted to do it last year. It became obvious, because there was no preparation, that it was not going to happen last year. Yes, the minister has consistently said that it will begin in July 2018, but essentially that is as a result of not doing anything very much for the first six or nine months of having the job of Minister for Mental Health.
Let us go to the chronology. Last February I was told that the discussion paper about this would be out in April. In July I asked where it was and I was told that when the