Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 August 2016) . . Page.. 2710 ..
We need to have excellent workforce planning for these vital groups. We must not have a problematic approach, and not just for those carrying the heavy load of working extra shifts sometimes but perhaps putting off holiday leave as there are not sufficient people to cover shifts. But it is seriously problematic to the wellbeing of those on the other end of the phone dialling 000 with a medical emergency. I will be taking a special interest to ensure that the workforce planning is undertaken with a long-term view to ensure that not only the needs of our current ambulance officers are taken into account but also future planning is well catered for.
Much like within the mental health portfolio, where I have expressed concern about the safety and wellbeing of nurses and front-line staff, I am very mindful of the physical and mental health of those who are caring for our community in our Emergency Services Agency. We are also fortunate here in the ACT to have the ACT Rural Fire Service and our SES. Without a rural fire service that helps to protect life and property in the rural parts of the ACT such as Tharwa and surrounds and other villages, where our current serving MLA Val Jeffery is from?
One of the things that have become blatantly clear is the importance of prolonging local knowledge in our parts. Often this local knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation of these families on the land. Local knowledge should be relied upon, respected and consulted upon. I recall speaking to an elderly man in Queanbeyan a few years ago after the 2010 floods who was telling me about the serious floods back in the 1970s. It is this sort of lived experience that can add significant value when facing bushfires and weather patterns in rural regions. We do not have to rely just on experts or people who have studied things academically. There is also a great deal to be learned from the community. They are renowned for their voluntary spirit and great generosity in helping across our community. Our SES is no different; great men and women who willingly give up their time to help those around them when people need a helping hand.
With many trees in the Weston Creek area having suffered through the drought of the 2000s, we have seen a large number of them come down or branches come down over the last five years every time there is a bit of a storm. Very often it is the SES who are out cutting up fallen trees and removing the branches that have come down on people’s hedges and roofs. This all contributes to keeping our community safe. There are some thoughts about having some of our emergency services being more independent of the JACS department. That is certainly worth considering.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for the Environment and Climate Change) (9.48): I thank members for their comments on the Justice and Community Safety portfolio budget. I will leave my colleague Mr Rattenbury to deal with comments in relation to Corrective Services, but I will make some comments this evening about the importance the government has attached to a wide-ranging reform agenda to tackle the impact of domestic and family violence in our community.
The investments the government is making in this budget are driven by a fundamental recognition—not just on the part of the government, but I believe on the part of the