Page 3604 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 22 October 2013

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separate piece of work about that because our claims are going down and our premium is going up. You will be aware of the whole-of-government work that is being done around looking for other options for our workers compensation arrangements. The premium across ACT government is going up but there has not been any significant increase that I am aware of in relation to claims within ACT Health.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Doszpot.

MR DOSZPOT: Minister, can you tell us what steps you are taking to make the Health Directorate a safe place to work?

MS GALLAGHER: The answer to that covers a number of different fronts. One of them relates to infrastructure, so building appropriate facilities for staff to work in that have adequate equipment to deal with the physical load of working in a healthcare system. For example, some of the facilities we build now have a bariatric consulting room, so that staff have a large area to work with people who are overweight or obese. Lifting equipment in the hospitals is a fairly standard practice now. So across the physical environment, I think the hospital does very well.

In relation to workplace culture, I think it has been an issue that the director-general in particular has been keen to work on with staff. There has been a whole range of different responses to that. There is the workforce culture survey; there are individual workplace responses that happen on that. There is also a very active workplace engagement program. I know that the director-general forums, for example, at the Canberra Hospital often do not have any empty seats in them, whereas several years ago you would not have found anyone going to them. That, again, shows a level of engagement with the workforce that has not existed before and is a result of the active work that has been done by the executive to address concerns around the workplace environment.

Education—literacy and numeracy

MS BERRY: My question is to the minister for education. Minister, I refer to your recent comments on making the study of English mandatory to year 12. Can you inform the Assembly why it is important to examine the studying of English in these senior secondary years.

MS BURCH: I thank Ms Berry for her question. Recent international and Australian reports, from bodies such as the OECD, the Australian Council for Educational Research, the Productivity Commission and the Australian Industry Group, have highlighted the importance of literacy and numeracy skills to the future of both individuals and the economy. It is critical that we ensure that all ACT students graduate from college with the highest possible levels of literacy and numeracy. We know that literacy and numeracy skills are developed across all subject areas, but the major focus for the development of these skills is in English and mathematics. This is why I have asked the Board of Senior Secondary Studies to review the requirements for English in the ACT year 12 certificate—and possibly mathematics.

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