Debates Day 3 - Thursday 19 June 2003
Parliamentary Record 13
Debates for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Thursday 19 June 2003 a very serious situation where there is significant under-funding. It is not unusual for people with mental health problems in Aboriginal communities ... Mr Vatskalis: Or in any community. Mrs AAGAARD: Or, in fact, in any community, to become involved in matters to do with violence. It is quite common throughout the community. Members inteijecting. Mrs AAGAARD: Ah, Madam Speaker, they are very sad! I might just add that it is curious that the member for Port Darwin was not the one to give the first speech - that is very curious. Usually the oppositions spokesperson is the one to give the first speech. However, apparently the former opposition spokesperson just could not handle it. He had to speak, as in fact, he always feels he has to speak. He is so upset, he cannot cope with the fact that he is not still the minister. I am sorry for him; maybe he should just move over a bit and allow the member for Port Darwin - perhaps there is some kind of a change in portfolios about to happen tonight, because we keep hearing that the CLP is having a meeting tonight about their membership and leadership. They are very upset and I am sure the Leader of the Opposition must be very concerned about that. Mr REED: A point of order, Madam Speaker. This is a grievous issue; a censure motion. It is a matter of utmost importance and of extreme concern to nurses who are being bashed-44 of them in February and March this year ... Madam SPEAKER: What is your point of order? Mr REED: Could you please ask the minister to address the issues and confine herself to the subject of this very important debate? Madam SPEAKER: I will assume that members on both sides will adhere to that request. Minister, address the censure motion. Mrs AAGAARD: Madam Speaker, in this report it says: Related Care and Opportunity Costs. An estimation o f the aggression costs was undertaken from one community clinic for 12 months commencing December 2000. This cost was conservatively calculated at $59 600. Did the CLP do something about this? Did they know about this? Did they put the money in? Did they do anything? No, they did nothing. Since coming to government, we have put in place a significant number of things to address the whole issue of aggression. It is a very difficult area but the statistics indicate clearly that what we are doing has reduced the number of violent incidents throughout my department. We will continue to put money and effort into this area. No level of violence is acceptable, and we will continue to work with the police and communities to ensure that people are as safe as possible in their work places. This is absolutely essential. It is amazing that the CLP dare to talk about these issues, given their completely pathetic history on it. They are living in the past. They are a party of the past. We are moving ahead. We have actually decreased the number of people who have been physically or verbally assaulted. In fact, a lot of the incidents detailed in this report as, indeed, do the formal statistics of my department, relate not to physical assaults at all, but to threats. Threats are extremely undesirable and we do not want them to happen. However, there is a significant difference between a threat and a violent attack. I am sure that all members of this House would recognise that difference. I understand that, in particular, threats have declined significantly over the past year as well. Madam Speaker, this is a pathetic censure motion, and the government will not be acceding to it. Ms CARTER (Port Darwin): Madam Speaker, how disappointing it is that the minister can only use up two-thirds of her allocated time to respond. She has 30 minutes and she gives us barely 20 minutes on this vitally important issue. It is disappointing to the House and to nurses and other health department staff, in particular. The minister has been censured on a number of issues, one of them being that she is not meeting her statutory responsibilities with regard to providing a safe work place for her employees in the Department of Health and Community Services. A number of things have come to light in the last few days that draw attention to that topic. I note that in February last year, the minister launched her aggression policy and, during her speech in this House, told us that violence against staff was a major concern and a policy was being implemented to prevent and deal with issues of aggression. Here we are, 16 months later, and virtually nothing has changed - nothing at all! What we brought to light in this Chamber this week is a demonstration of the fact that the aggression policy has not worked and is not working. 4394
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