Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 7 June 2017) . . Page.. 1959 ..
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (11.02): The Ngunnawal bush healing farm was first proposed some years ago, and it is fair to say that this facility has been a long time coming. I thank Mr Milligan for bringing this motion forward today because it is an important project. Given the recent debate I think it is appropriate that we discuss it in the Assembly today. The Greens recognise that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community have completely valid frustrations about the delays in the process and the difficulties that have been encountered with the site lease and planning requirements. I welcome the minister’s acknowledgement about the confusion caused, her shared frustration at the delays and that she is being very frank with the Assembly about acknowledging where things have not worked as she and the rest of us would have wished.
The question we now face is how to achieve the best outcome for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community moving forward. It is for this reason that the Greens will be supporting the amendments proposed by Minister Fitzharris. They acknowledge past mistakes and commit the government to clear time frames for reporting back to the Assembly on the next steps and plans for opening the facility later this year. It does this whilst retaining significant swathes of Mr Milligan’s original motion. The amendments have not sought to gloss the situation and provide some clarity on the next steps forward. There is always a political filter about these things, and we have to be frank about that.
The Ngunnawal bush healing farm has the potential to be a real asset to the ACT's health system and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. It can be a facility which offers holistic wraparound services which support the health, cultural, spiritual and social wellbeing of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. It can be one important part of a broader strategy to improve social and economic outcomes for Indigenous people in the territory. However, to date there has been a lack of clarity about the purpose and scope of the facility.
The question of whether the facility can provide any sort of clinical care is one that needs to be finally resolved. I acknowledge there are activities outside of the clinical sphere that can occur on the site that will help people with their healing journey, but there appear to be differing views on whether this fulfils the intended purpose of the facility as it was understood by the community.
I am encouraged to hear that the government is having regular and ongoing discussions with the Ngunnawal bush healing farm advisory board. The involvement and leadership of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community are essential to finalising a model of care and creating a facility that will be culturally appropriate and suitable to the community’s needs. All future work must be in line with the well-established principle of do it with us, not to us.
I truly believe the minister is committed to this approach, and that is why I am happy to support the amendments to the motion. I am also pleased that the minister's amendments clearly accept responsibility for the elements of the confusion added by the Health Directorate around the proposed model of care and offer an apology to the community for that.