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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 18 March 2015) . . Page.. 883 ..

The point is that cultural and behavioural issues similar to those in ACTAS are common in ambulance services. It seems that the particular type of work, employees and stresses in this industry often lead to these types of problems. It is also important to acknowledge that although, yes, there are clearly issues in ACTAS, the Lennox review revealed that our Ambulance Service is also performing very well in many areas. Its response times and patient satisfaction results are of the highest standards. It is important to acknowledge this and to thank the service for its broadly excellent service. With all of the negativity that is being aired about ACTAS, I imagine it can be somewhat demoralising for the hardworking staff and can give the wrong impression about the overall level of performance.

I note, as Mr Smyth has, that the review and the report have taken longer than initially expected. It is not ideal, of course, but my understanding is that the delay is due to the reviewer engaging in broad consultation for the report and also undertaking a literature review. I do not believe it was the government ignoring the issue; it was the reviewer being very thorough to produce a good outcome. Yes, it took time to determine the terms of reference, but I understand this was quite complicated and there was quite some back and forth on it because it involved numerous stakeholders.

One way to proceed would have been for the government to unilaterally determine the terms of reference and plough ahead with the review. Another way was to engage the stakeholders and ensure the process was consultative and that there was agreement. That can take much longer, but that is my understanding of what happened. There was quite a bit of back and forth, and I suspect ultimately we had an inquiry that actually looked at the issues that all parties could agree needed to be looked at. I personally am comfortable that that is a better way to go than if the minister had just said, “Right, these are the terms of reference,” and the union and the staff had not had an opportunity to participate in that.

In conclusion, I support the motion with the amendment proposed by Ms Burch. I agree that the government has taken a responsible and appropriate approach by releasing the blueprint report, which includes the findings and recommendations from the O2C report but does not include the problematic details which can be categorised as confidential and possibly incriminating.

I took the measure of personally speaking with the Secretary of the TWU in the lunch break today, and I asked about this matter, what progress had been made and where the union stood. I had a very clear and direct indication that the union supports the approach that has been taken in dealing with the report in this way and the fact that the blueprint is now on the table and that the recommendations are being followed through. That is what it is ultimately about.

I look forward to the government responding actively to the report, because this is about the outcomes. It is about implementing the recommendations and seeing improvements in the ACT Ambulance Service, noting of course that significant cultural changes, which are the type being discussed in this report, will take some time. There seems to be little doubt about that. These things are not easy, but we must set off on the pathway and there must be a commitment from both the government and members of the Ambulance Service to achieve that.

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