Page 1422 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 May 2015

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What I see in the HAAS pilot is an approach that offers more targeted individual support in schools than nurses alone can offer. For me, this is the real strength of HAAS. It is nurses, allied health professionals, medical professionals, schools, parents and families working together for students. This is the community coming together in our schools. The pilot has students at the centre of the approach and recognises the inputs of families and medical specialists. It is a good model for providing the care needed in schools.

Schools are places of learning; they are not a healthcare setting. Students in HAAS need care for routine health conditions; they do not necessarily need the care of a skilled registered nurse. This is a vital distinction that appears to be lost in some of the reporting. When healthcare professionals and parents agree that a nurse is required for a student to attend school, ACT Health makes the arrangements for that to happen. Teachers and other school staff are not experts in determining the medical needs of students, but nurses and healthcare professionals are. This is why HAAS works.

It is perfectly reasonable—in fact, desirable—for ACT Health to lead the approach in providing support for the healthcare needs of students in schools. It is the healthcare professionals who have the knowledge and expertise to make decisions about who can support routine healthcare needs for students. As I think Mr Rattenbury has articulated, it is not for us here to make those final decisions; it is the domain of healthcare professionals. I can say that if a skilled, experienced nurse advised me that a school assistant with the right training could provide for my child’s needs in attending school, the same care that I would provide at home, then I would accept that advice.

The HAAS pilot has been informed by national practice and international evidence. ACT Health has taken heed of that evidence base. These are the healthcare professionals who know the tasks that can be performed by school staff at schools. They are the same tasks that are often performed by parents and carers when the students are not at school. The Education and Training Directorate has been working and will continue to work with this review to make sure we get this right.

Nurses design and implement training for school staff and coach them in specific tasks. It is my understanding that learning support assistants take up that training and provide that within their existing scope of practice.

I will take the opportunity to clear something up today in relation to accuracy in recent commentary, and Mr Corbell went to this too. HAAS is not a telephone hotline. To call it that undersells the contribution of families, nurses and other healthcare professionals in this pilot, and it fails to recognise the training afforded to school staff and their skills in meeting the needs of our students.

There are 24 students participating in HAAS across 86 public schools, including a number of students at Black Mountain and Woden. Seven students attend their local school because of HAAS; this is an excellent outcome for those families and for those schools.

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