Page 620 - Week 02 - Thursday, 20 February 2020

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urgent matters. In the year to date for 2019-20—the first half of the year—compared to the year to date for 2018-19, we have seen a 42 per cent increase in category 1 patients, a 13.9 per cent increase in category 2 patients, an 18.8 per cent reduction in non-urgent category 5 patients and a 7.9 per cent increase in urgent category 3 patients.

You can see the pattern that I talk about often, of increased category 1, 2 and 3 presentations and a reduction in category 4 and 5 presentations as people identify that they have alternative options such as to attend our fabulous nurse-led walk-in centres, which those opposite do not support, have never supported and currently do not appear to have a policy on at all. Aligned with that increase in triage categories in emergency, what I am hearing in anecdotal feedback from our emergency departments is that there is an increase in the complexity of patients, an increase in patients with co-morbidity and complex underlying conditions.

The steps that I outlined in my previous answers, I am confident, will deliver not only an improvement in the data over the next few months, but a continued improvement in patients treatment and outcomes.

Schools—chaplaincy replacement

MRS KIKKERT: My question is to the Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development. Minister, how many chaplains are no longer in schools, and how many psychologists have replaced them?

MS BERRY: The ACT government made a commitment to increase the number of psychologists in the ACT over four years. There are now 20 more psychologists engaged in public schools, that is, 81 available across 88 schools in the ACT. As part of the chaplains program, I understand that nine of the chaplains who were employed by the Scripture Union Queensland last year have taken up the offer to continue to be employed by the ACT government, as secular workers in ACT public schools. I think there were 19 previously engaged in our schools.

All schools have been offered additional support, if that is required, through social and welfare supports. I have made it very clear in this place, as well as to our school communities, that if they need extra support the Education Directorate will work with them through their NSET teams to make sure that they have support for children who need it. Of course, there are also the safe and inclusive schools programs and the safe and supportive schools programs. Unfortunately, it is still the case that LGBTIQ children are often still targeted within school communities across the country, including here in the ACT. So, making sure that our schools have the supports available to support that particularly vulnerable group of young people has been very important. A number of tools are available for schools to access should that be required.

MRS KIKKERT: Minister, what is the cost of replacing school chaplains with psychologists?

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