Page 2488 - Week 07 - Thursday, 3 August 2017

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MR RATTENBURY: Yes, I did see the press release put out by ASMOF making those concerns public about the shortage of psychiatrists in the ACT. I can inform the Assembly that there has been a degree of staff turnover and 12 staff have left in the last period of time. However, during that same period, ACT Health has undertaken seven recruitment rounds and successfully recruited 13 new psychiatrists. Not all of those are on board at this time; some are coming a bit later this year.

Certainly, the challenge that we face is that there is nationally a shortage of psychiatrists. The ACT is competing with other jurisdictions to encourage people to come and work in our jurisdiction. That presents its challenges. We have just been discussing why people want to come to Canberra. This is one of the issues that we need to deal with here. But we are successfully recruiting psychiatrists. One of the issues I intend to raise at the COAG health ministers meeting tomorrow, with other mental health ministers in particular, is how we can address the issue of the national shortage of psychiatrists and whether there are steps we need to be taking nationally to get more people to enter the profession. That will not provide an immediate response but I think it is an important long-term workforce strategic planning question.

MRS DUNNE: Minister, how often has the adult mental health unit at the Canberra Hospital had only one psychiatrist present when the unit is meant to be staffed by four psychiatrists at any one time?

MR RATTENBURY: I will take that question on notice and provide Mrs Dunne with an answer.

MR WALL: Minister, what actions have you taken to satisfy yourself that the adult mental health unit has enough qualified staff to meet the rising levels of demand?

MR RATTENBURY: I have had quite a number of discussions with my directorate about the availability of psychiatrists in the ACT and we have been discussing in detail the recruitment strategies used by ACT Health to ensure that we have enough staff in the ACT.

Government—events policy

MR STEEL: My question is to the Minister for Regulatory Services. Can the minister outline how the government is making it easier to stage events in Canberra, including in my electorate of Murrumbidgee?

MR RAMSAY: I thank Mr Steel for his question. The government is committed to making Canberra a vibrant city which strikes the balance to facilitate events whilst ensuring that public safety is maintained. It can be time-consuming to have all of the relevant information and to go through all of the possible applications. That is why Access Canberra has set up their events case management team. Those who want to host an event in Canberra need only fill out one online form and this team will kick into action to ensure that organisers have all the relevant information. They will then work with them to help them to obtain all the relevant government approvals they need.

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