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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 26 September 2019) . . Page.. 3939 ..


I present a copy of the statement:

Workplace Culture within ACT Public Health Services—Independent Review—Final Report—Biannual update on implementation of the recommendations—Ministerial statement, 26 September 2019.

I move:

That the Assembly take note of the paper.

MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (10.39): It appears that one important group has not been consulted about health culture, that is, the community more generally. The Minister for Health has not told the community which areas of ACT Health and Canberra Health Services have had problems with the culture and what she will do to fix the problems. This is not about finger pointing; it is about transparency and accountability. Until this happens the community can have little confidence in what the government and this minister is doing to fix the issue. You cannot trust ACT Labor on health culture because these issues have raised their head over and over again in the past 18 years.

The minister has just said something along the lines of a strong governance framework is one indicator of good performance, and I agree. But that is exactly where we have fallen down: in the governance from the top of successive ACT Labor ministers. For example, they have consistently denied over the years that the problem exists. Twelve months ago, then Minister Fitzharris was trying to tell us that health culture was just fine. She had to be dragged kicking and screaming into this review of the health culture. Ten years ago Minister Gallagher, the minister at the time, told us about a 10-year war in obstetrics. That means this is now a 20-year war, and we hear reports from members of the community that this war is continuing despite the previous minister and the minister before saying everything is fine.

In 2015 Minister Corbell received a damning report from KPMG on clinical culture. He established a high-powered committee on clinical culture which met regularly until the election. But then after the 2016 election everything seemed to grind to a halt. The bullying resumed and we saw concerns again being raised about culture. We just cannot trust the government to get this right.

In 12 months the minister will no doubt tell us that everything has been fixed and everything is fine. But we feel that it is important to tell the community the truth, including where the problems have been and where the issues continue to fester. After all, it is the community’s rates, taxes, fees and charges that go towards our health system. The alternative is what this Labor-Greens government has been doing: claiming, “Everything’s fine. Nothing to see here,” until an area loses accreditation or has its accreditation downgraded.

I thank our hardworking, dedicated health professionals who continue to provide excellent care despite the structural issues that have plagued our health system and despite the lack of leadership from a revolving door of health ministers within the Labor-Greens government. You just cannot trust them on health.

Question resolved in the affirmative.


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