Page 372 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 18 February 2020

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resolution 5A. I wish to inform the Assembly that during the period 1 July 2019 to 31 December 2019 the standing committee considered no statutory appointments.

Health—hydrotherapy services

Ministerial statement

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Children, Youth and Families, Minister for Health and Minister for Urban Renewal) (10.03): I rise today to update the Assembly on progress regarding arrangements for the provision of hydrotherapy in the south of Canberra. As members are aware, it has been the government’s consistent position that the hydrotherapy pool at the Canberra Hospital needs to close. This was originally scheduled to occur when a new, state-of-the-art hydrotherapy pool opened at the University of Canberra Hospital in 2018. Given the advice we received about the work health and safety risks associated with keeping the Canberra Hospital pool open, in addition to the inherent uncertainty as to the reliability of the ageing facility, there was no other responsible decision to take.

In line with the commitment my predecessor, Minister Fitzharris, made in this place on 15 May 2019, I also reaffirmed a number of times last year that the government would not close the Canberra Hospital hydrotherapy pool until an appropriate level of access at other suitable locations, readily accessible for those on Canberra’s south side, could be continued. To support the government’s commitment, the ACT Health Directorate has worked with Arthritis ACT to ensure the continuity of hydrotherapy services on the south side of the ACT and, importantly, the delivery of these services in a safe and sustainable way.

Last Friday I announced with Arthritis ACT’s CEO, Ms Rebecca Davey, that Aqua Harmony in Kambah has been identified as the most appropriate facility to continue offering hydrotherapy services to Arthritis ACT’s south side members. I can therefore advise the Assembly that the hydrotherapy pool at the Canberra Hospital will close from 29 February 2020.

I was pleased to be able to announce that the ACT Health Directorate and Arthritis ACT had signed a deed of variation to their existing service funding agreement, providing an additional $305,645 for the period from 29 February 2020 to 30 June 2022 for Arthritis ACT to manage this transition. This funding will ensure that hydrotherapy sessions are delivered in a safe setting and are supervised by appropriately qualified staff. This new funding is in addition to the $239,000 per annum under the current service funding agreement, which runs until the end of 2021-22.

The government recognises that there is strong community demand for this valuable service, and these arrangements will ensure the continuity of hydrotherapy services delivered by Arthritis ACT. Importantly, Arthritis ACT has been able to assure pool users that the Aqua Harmony hydrotherapy pool is heated to 34 degrees and that the pool’s management has committed to maintaining this temperature.

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