Page 3175 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 19 August 2008

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The report highlights that advances in medical technology made available through health and medical research have the capacity to improve health outcomes for individuals. Despite the ACT being a small jurisdiction, the ACT does have strong capabilities in health and medical research and development, particularly as a centre of national and international significance.

The skills shortage is impacting on the uptake of research careers by university graduates and there is a need to increase the number of graduates. The report also talks about the promotion of science and research careers through the ACT school system to encourage young people to embark on such careers. This has the potential to impact on this sector in the long term. There was a concern from the people who appeared before the committee that the number of people in schools taking up science was dropping off, and I am sure the minister for education would acknowledge that. However, the committee was looking at it not so much from the perspective of secondary education but starting much earlier than that and getting young people in primary schools interested in it. We heard from one of the people who appeared before us about programs that are being run in New South Wales and elsewhere which are looking at trying to get young people in primary schools interested in science and medical science.

The committee also heard about barriers that impeded the uptake of research projects by nurses and allied health professionals, which I draw to the attention of the Minister for Health. The committee recommends the development of strategies to support new career researchers or university graduates, as well as nurses and allied health professionals. The committee found that greater support for new career researchers should be promoted through senior health administrators.

The committee also heard about and has reported on the issue of raising funds for research and development. A recommendation was made supporting the establishment of a research foundation based at the Canberra Hospital. This would bring the Canberra Hospital in line with other major teaching hospitals.

I would like to place on the record my thanks to the various secretaries who have been involved in this inquiry. As I said at the beginning of my remarks, it has taken a long time to get this report to this stage and it was hard to get people to understand the purpose of it. I do believe that the ACT, even though it is a small area, can play a very important role, so I would like to thank Trish Carling, Ellie Eggerking and, of course, Grace Concannon, who brought the whole report together, got it underway and finally got it finished and delivered to us in the last few weeks. In fact, we have worked on this in the last few months. I thank them for doing that.

I would also like to thank all of the people who appeared before the committee. Early on, the committee went on a trip to Victoria and visited organisations such as the Bio21 institute, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and other organisations, so I thank them for making us welcome.

I also draw the Assembly’s attention to the back of the report, which contains a report on meetings that I held as part of my study trip last year to the United States, which

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