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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 August 2017) . . Page.. 3142 ..

intensive care unit; 24 beds in the coronary care unit; more inpatient wards, with 64 beds for overnight care; and more elective day surgical spaces. The centre will also separate the emergency and elective surgery theatres, meaning reductions in rescheduling and delays as well as having the added benefit of creating local jobs for the construction workers of Canberra.

Our 10-year plan will also commit $14 million over five years to deliver a new nurse--led walk-in centre in my own district of Yerrabi. I was very pleased to join the minister, Meegan Fitzharris, for the announcement. During the campaign last year I spoke to thousands of people about that nurse-led walk-in centre. Ever since I have been elected, people have come up to me at street stalls, and they raise it at the doorstops. This is a policy that the community is incredibly excited about, and it is great to see it being delivered.

Labor governments understand that healthcare funding does not just mean counting hospital beds or surgery rooms. This government realises that the best and most effective way of dealing with health problems is through preventative care measures. Not only does it improve people’s overall wellbeing but it is also good for the budget bottom line. Promoting healthy behaviours is much cheaper than dealing with serious illnesses. That is why I am so pleased to see that this budget has delivered a new Canberra-wide preventative care strategy. This strategy commits over $700,000 towards whooping cough as well as $136,000 to expand the hospital in the home program.

The benefits of our plan do not stop there. The government is also committing $36 million to employ more graduate nurses and nurse navigators, as well as $2.7 million towards establishing a new University of Canberra clinical school for nursing, midwifery and allied health. The benefits to our community from a health perspective are well known, but just as important are the learning opportunities to be provided to students at the University of Canberra. Higher education has been a standout for the territory, making up 30 per cent of our total exports. Not only is this investment great for our higher education industry but it also means that we will be attracting, training and hopefully retaining these health professionals in the ACT.

The budget also includes $16.1 million to ensure that the University of Canberra public hospital stays on track to be open to the public in 2018. With the growth we are seeing in the northern suburbs of Canberra, particularly in Gungahlin, it is vital that we continue to invest in health infrastructure up north. That is why I am also pleased to see the government investing $3.3 million to undertake a scoping study into the health service and infrastructure requirements for outpatient and hospital-based care in Canberra’s north.

In this budget the Labor government has invested in Canberra’s youth. Mental health issues disproportionally affect young people, with almost 14 per cent of those aged four to 17 having a mental health condition and suicide being the biggest killer of people aged 14 to 24. The government is investing $1.8 million to address suicide prevention, working with organisations such as the Black Dog Institute and the way back program to make sure that we prevent these horrendous tragedies from happening.

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