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LGH - Responses to Commission of Inquiry

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Tags: Commission of Inquiry, Launceston General Hospital


Yesterday we asked what action you have taken about the shocking failures of multiple LGH managers in relation to child sex abuse. Your vague non-answer has left us and many others deeply concerned. For 18 months the Department of Premier and Cabinet website has detailed the number of state servants stood down as the result of abuse allegations, their location, notifications made to legal and regulatory bodies, and ED5 investigations. The public needs confidence that the LGH's culture of non-accountability is being stamped out today, not avoided until sometime late next year.

Have any managerial staff at the LGH been stood down, or ED5 investigations commenced due to their recent admitted failures to notify and act on child sex abuse?



Mr Speaker, I thank Dr Woodruff for her question. First, I acknowledge the bravery and determination demonstrated by victims/survivors who have participated in the commission of inquiry. I understand the evidence heard during the commission of inquiry hearings has been very challenging for all of us, and for the Tasmanian community. The Government has made it very clear, both in the lead up to and throughout the hearings, that we are committed to accepting and implementing the recommendations of the commission of inquiry. We have demonstrated that we will not wait to act, by announcing the Child Safe Governance Review of the Launceston General Hospital and human resources in early July.

This review is driving immediate change with a priority focus on the handling of serious misconduct, such as institutional child sexual abuse. I have outlined to the House that the recently established Governance Advisory Panel is working as quickly as possible to develop recommendations on action required regarding the hospital's organisational structure, management leadership and mandatory training. Since the commission hearings, I am continuing to work closely with the secretary of the Department of Health to implement effective action to ensure that child safety is embedded within workplace culture in all our hospitals and health facilities.

In responding to the commission, it is critical that we act with sensitivity and with regard to due process -

Dr Woodruff - You said you would act urgently if information came to light. It has come to light.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr ROCKLIFF - recognising the need to comply with the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1995. As this House is aware, in 2021 in preparation for the commission of inquiry, amendments were made to that act to provide protections for employees who give evidence. I note all parties supported those amendments. I must maintain confidentiality.

Dr Woodruff - They are for whistleblowers. They are not for people who failed in their duty.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr ROCKLIFF - and it is not appropriate for me to comment on specific cases or allegations. However, I can assure you, Dr Woodruff, and I can assure the entire House, that the Department of Health is taking proactive action in response to the commission of inquiry by implementing the Child Safe Governance Review of the Launceston General Hospital and human resources.

Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Mr Speaker, standing order 45. I know there are staff of the LGH watching the Premier's answer, and they want to know about the people in place today who are still managers.

Mr SPEAKER - If you could take a seat, member for Franklin. Again, I point out to the Premier the point of relevance, but I will state that is not an opportunity to stand, make a point of order and then add to the conversation with a statement to the House. You have asked the Premier a question. He should be allowed to answer it uninterrupted.

Mr ROCKLIFF - While the governance review is under way, the department is progressing important actions through the Child Safe organisation's project to implement a new child safety and wellbeing framework to mandate and foster culture that puts child safety first. Support and implementation of the framework child safeguarding training is already being rolled out across the department and focuses on mandatory reporting, professional boundaries, and identifying grooming behaviours. The department is continuing to internally examine and review its policies, practices, and procedures, and will implement reform where opportunities for improvement are identified. As I have said -

Dr Woodruff - They have been identified.

Mr SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff. You can leave the Chamber until after question time.

Mr ROCKLIFF - As I have consistently said, Dr Woodruff, our Government is committed to learning from past mistakes and failures to implement real and lasting change that safeguards our children. I again acknowledge those past failures present governments and indeed past governments of all colours where we have failed children in our care. We are committed to ensuring we implement the recommendations of the commission on inquiry. As I have demonstrated, each time we have had hearings from the commission to come back to this place we produced a ministerial statement for debate and discussion amongst members on the actions that we are taking. We are not waiting for the recommendations from the commission, which we expect to be handed down towards the middle of next year. We are taking action right now.