Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for HEALTH, Mr ROCKLIFF
The commission of inquiry has heard harrowing testimony of how children were harmed at the Launceston General Hospital and other institutions. It detailed the serious failings of the LGH management to discharge their responsibility to take allegations seriously, to report them and act to protect children. Many of these failings have been known for up to two years yet most of those responsible remain in their positions.
Your Government is planning to introduce a Criminal Code amendment to make failure to protect a child a crime, highlighting how serious this matter is. However, there are people working in the LGH right now who have actively distorted evidence of child sex abuse in what can only be seen as deliberate attempts at cover ups and they have failed in their obligations as mandatory reporters.
As Minister for Health, what actions are you taking in relation to those LGH staff? Why have they not been stood down already?
Mr Speaker, I thank the member for her question and acknowledge the serious matter she brings to the parliament. We all acknowledge the bravery and determination shown by victims and survivors who have participated in the commission of inquiry. It is essential that we keep our Tasmanian children and young people safe. Our Government, as indeed all of us united across the parliament, are committed to learning from past mistakes and failures and to implement real and lasting change.
It has been a difficult period for the Tasmanian community, particularly with the confronting evidence heard during the commission of inquiry hearings. Our Government has made it clear that we are committed to accepting and implementing the recommendations of the commission of inquiry.
Greens members interjecting.
Mr SPEAKER - Order. The two Greens members understand the rules. The question has been put to the Premier. You will allow the Premier to continue with his answer and not interject on him, please.
Mr ROCKLIFF - Mr Speaker, I am working closely with the secretary of the Department of Health to consider how to respond sensitively and effectively to ensure that child safety is embedded in workplace culture in all our hospitals and health facilities. The secretary and I announced the Child Safe Governance Review of the Launceston General Hospital and the human resources in early July to demonstrate that we will not wait to take action where it is clearly needed. The Child Safe Governance Review has been established to drive immediate change with a priority focus on the handling of serious misconduct such as institutional child sexual abuse. The review will -
Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Mr Speaker, standing order 45, relevance. This is a serious matter. We have asked about the specific people who are still in their position, not about the general response of the Government in the Health department or other institutions. Those people are in their job.
Mr SPEAKER - There does not need to be an explanation. You have brought up relevance. I remind the Premier of relevance although, in my view, he was talking about the issue you raised. I will allow the Premier to continue.
Mr ROCKLIFF - The review will make recommendations on matters including the hospital's organisational structure, management, and leadership and manager training.
The Child Safe Governance Review is being personally led by the secretary of the Department of Health. The Government's advisory panel to inform the review has recently been established. Its membership includes a range of expert staff and union representatives. Three experts in child trauma, governance and hospital administration have been appointed, including Professor Erwin Loh, Adjunct Professor Ann Maree Keenan and Adjunct Professor Maria Harries AM [OK].
It is critical that staff also have meaningful input into the review. Six current staff with broad experience have been appointed: Katherine Graham, a clinical nurse consultant; Dr Lucy Reed, director of Emergency Medicine; Ashley Miller, assistant director of Nursing, North and North-West; Paul Eagar, chaplain of THS, LGH; Dr Emma-Jane McCrum, senior psychologist; Amanda Duncan, registered nurse; Sam Beatty, Nurse Unit manager; and William Gordon, registered nurse . Union panel representatives include -
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker, standing order 45 to relevance. I respect your earlier ruling but the Premier has not gone anywhere near the issue of people at the LGH who came before the commission of inquiry and testified to failing children.
Mr SPEAKER - Again, it does not need an explanation. I remind the Premier about relevance. The point I have often made in this Chamber, and previous Speakers have suggested, is that the Speaker does not know what the Premier is going to say in the future. I must allow him to continue to complete his answer. It may not be what you want to hear but the Premier has control of how he answers the question.
Mr ROCKLIFF - Dr Helen McArdle from the AMA; Emily Shepherd, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation; Tim Jacobson, Health and Community Services Union; and Thirza White, Community and Public Sector Union. Tasmania's chief medical officer, Professor Tony Lawler, has been appointed to the panel as well.
It is very important that the experiences of victims/survivors are a key part of this review to ensure that their voice is heard and they have an opportunity to provide their valuable input. That is why we have created the expert reference group, which victims/survivors will be invited to participate in and provide advice to the review.
The panel has begun to meet regularly and, to date, has considered reports on the Child Safe Organisation Project and One Health cultural improvement program based on cultural assessment of the LGH. The panel has also provided an update from the chair of the Lived Experience expert reference group. The governance advisory panel has developed a forward meeting plan that will support it to develop its recommendations within the scheduled time frames.
Mr SPEAKER - If you could wind up please, Premier.
Mr ROCKLIFF - To support the reform work, the department has established a dedicated Child Safe Organisations project team who have progressed a number of key actions.
The department's new Child Safety and Wellbeing Framework and staff training has recently been launched following external and internal consultation, which will see the department implement 10 national principles for child-safe organisations. The framework will ensure the structure and systems are in place to mandate and foster a child-safe organisation and culture by embedding effective leadership and governance at all levels of the organisation. It applies to all employees across the Department of Health and details our shared duty to safeguard children and young people in our care.
I assure all victims and survivors that our Government is committed to listening, that we believe in you and, most importantly, act to respond.