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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 16 August 2018) . . Page.. 3043 ..

We have such a fantastic range of supports with our child and family centres that we want to make better use of, as well as our MACH clinics that are so vital during those first few months. As I said, discussions are currently underway with key stakeholders before we begin broader community consultation later this year. I am really looking forward to talking with new mums, expectant families and the community about how we can make our maternity services even better. When this process is complete, I will be very happy to provide an update to the Assembly about what the community have told us they want.

Ultimately, we want to develop a service that will make it much easier for people to navigate. It will be easier for pregnant women and their GPs to understand the range of options available, what the best option for them is, and where to go to get high quality care close to home. Through this consultation, we will be working with stakeholders and families to explore the benefits of a single entry point for birthing services, simply so that women do not have to approach two or three different services to get on a waiting list or find out where and when their first appointment will be. This is a really exciting process, and I look forward to seeing the outcomes early next year.

Of course, we will ensure staff are fully consulted before any changes are made to how maternity services are structured. Indeed, their input will be vital to making sure we get this right. The ACT government is committed not only to making it easier for women to access maternity and birthing services but also to staff sharing their expertise on the best ways to improve our services now and into the future.

As I have already mentioned in this place, the government has long-term plans to manage maternity demand in the ACT. These include the expansion of the Centenary hospital, which was funded in last year’s budget. This initiative will see the hospital expand physically and also in its capacity to deliver health services for Canberrans. The expansion will deliver new and increased services for women, children and adolescents requiring inpatient care across a number of disciplines as well as a number of specialist outpatient services for women and children. I am pleased to say the expansion project is currently entering the design phase of this planning work, and I look forward to talking further with the community about this major infrastructure project in the coming months as work continues to progress.

Canberra is a beautiful city, and it is no surprise that more couples are choosing to start families here. I love living here with my three kids; it is wonderful to walk around Gungahlin when there are so many new mums shopping in our town centres, walking around Yerrabi Pond and visiting our community health centre. For many Canberrans, having a baby may be their first experience with our health system, which is why we need to make it as easy as possible for new mums to get the information and care they need when they need it.

We are lucky to have great hospitals and wonderful, kind, skilled staff—nurses, midwives, doctors, specialists, cleaners, wards people, and all our other staff who love what they do and work hard to ensure our community gets the best care possible in our health system. Our health system is complex, and it needs to be. But it should also

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