Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 1954 ..
MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Minister for Health and Community Care) (10.32): I present the Health and Community Care Services Bill 1996, together with its explanatory memorandum.
Title read by Clerk.
MRS CARNELL: I move:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
Mr Speaker, I am pleased to present the Health and Community Care Services Bill 1996 and the Health and Community Care Services (Consequential Amendments) Bill 1996. These are relatively simple pieces of legislation, but they are fundamental to the future direction for health and community care in the ACT. They mark a new beginning, a new era for ACT health and community care. In a practical sense, these Bills will achieve two key objectives: First, they establish a Health and Community Care Service separate from the Department of Health and Community Care for the ACT from 1 July 1996; second, they establish a Health and Community Care Service Board to oversee the management and operations of the service.
Members of this house are well aware of the ongoing sagas involved in managing health and community care, meeting budgets, dealing with waiting lists and coping with public demand for services. These are issues that go back many years under various governments since self-government was granted. The very public focus on these issues has often tended to obscure the fact that the people of Canberra have what is generally a very fine health and community care service. They have access to services of high quality, staffed by highly dedicated and qualified professionals. I believe that it is about time that the ACT community and this Assembly as well got behind those dedicated professionals and supported them in the difficult job that they carry out. It is time for us as a community to deal maturely with the often inaccurate perceptions of our health and community care services, and this legislation gives us that opportunity.
This legislation, which is planned to come into effect from 1 July, heralds a new start, a new way forward for health and community care in the ACT. The legislation establishes a Health and Community Care Service and sets out the objectives, functions and powers of the service. The service is made up of the current Woden Valley Hospital and Community Division. Members should note that, while Woden Valley Hospital and Community Division are established as part of a single service to ensure integration and continuity of care for patients and clients, the two functions will be managed as separate entities. This is, first, because of the size of the task. Managing Woden Valley Hospital is a major challenge in itself.
Mr Berry: Double-counting.
MR SPEAKER: Order!