Page 2529 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

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I want to congratulate the government again. Whilst Winnunga had to wait an inordinate amount of time to be relocated from the awful premises up in Ainslie, the government did come up with a building, and an excellent one at that. However, I think that it really is a case of seeing to the supply of bricks and mortar but no funding for more support workers. As I have just said, the increase in the number of people coming through that centre is really going to demand that the government come forward with assistance in order that those people can be serviced and seen.

We have to give credit where credit is due. It was not mentioned, I do not believe, by the health minister, but the federal government funded the excellent fit out of the building. An incredible job has been done and it is really good to see service between the federal government and a territory government. That is a way that things can work well without stubbornness, unlike some other issues that I will talk about in the later debates.

I ask the health minister, Mr Corbell, to do all he can to ensure that recurrent funding will be forthcoming for Winnunga. It must surely be considered now as an integral part of our health system. We can no longer see it as some small place offering some small service. The people in this place who have been out there will know about the number of people and the health minister will be aware of the number of people who are now using the system.

I ask the health minister not only to ensure that funding at the ACT level can continue to meet the demand, but also to put Winnunga’s case forward for any federal funding that they receive. Again, my congratulations go to the government, but I will be watching very closely to ensure that these people are not being built up to be knocked down and that, as well as providing bricks and mortar, we are providing support workers and outreach workers at that centre to deal with people at the volume coming through.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (12.11): Mr Speaker, I would like to respond to a few issues that have come up in the debate this morning. The first issue that I would like to raise is one which I find deeply offensive, that is, Mrs Dunne’s assertion that in some way, because people are assessed and prioritised according to their critical need, I do not care and that I am to blame if people wait too long, if they suffer pain, because their clinical priority is one which does not warrant a more urgent type of treatment.

I do not know whether Mrs Dunne has been around for a long time or whether she is simply malicious, but the point I would like to make is that all public hospital systems operate on priority assessment. They operate on a triage process. That is the way public hospitals work. That is the way health care services around the country and around the world work. If they did not work that way, on what basis would you determine who should get treatment first? That is what triage is about. Triage is about determining who has the most urgent need for treatment; who should be seen first.

There are people on elective surgery waiting lists, there are people on dental waiting lists and there are people on all sorts of other waiting lists. They are there because they have been assessed according to their clinical need. It is not according to some arbitrary figure that the government dreams up. It is not according to some set of criteria that I, as minister, or public servants working in the department of health think up. Guess who

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