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
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Thursday 19 June 2003 communities, including Nhulunbuy, is increasing. I am concerned that it is so well known that at Gove District Hospital there will be drunks in the grounds after hours, yet so litde useful action has occurred. I draw to your attention the report that was tabled, Effects o f Substance Abuse Aggression on Health Service Provision. An East Amhem Perspective. On page 3, there is a report that Gove District Hospital has had a recent blitz - and I understand that is very recent - on security for staff and patients. I quote: As part o f this effort, the hospital has attempted to record every incident o f concern since late February 2003. Of 44 cases recorded to 2 April, 42 were believed to be related to alcohol. Therefore, within six weeks, the staff had recorded 42 cases of concern. I know that some people will read the document very carefully and note, on one occasion, that concern involved a goanna. Apparently, a visitor to the hospital brought a live goanna in and was threatening people with it. That may give rise to some mirth and may make some people think: Oh well, these statistics and records are a little dodgy because the goanna was mentioned. It would not wony me, but I do know people who are quite frightened of goannas, and everything has to be seen in the context of how people deal with things. The point here is, that in six weeks, 42 cases ... A member: 44. Ms CARTER: Sorry, 44 cases were recorded that were of concern to staff. In six weeks this year-44 cases. To my mind, that is a really disturbing statistic. The minister is constantly saying that everything is all right, and she cannot understand what we are going on about. This is, in the ministers mind, to quote her, a pathetic censure. It is appalling to have that attitude. Another limb of the ministers aggression policy was training for staff. I will discuss that in more detail shortly. Times are changing. What might have been appropriate architecture 10 or 20 years ago, when the hospital was built, is no longer appropriate. I agree with the Nursing Federation that, given the fact that it seems to be virtually impossible to get rid of these drunks from the grounds of the hospital, some barrier should be erected between them and the staff. I would encourage the minister to ensure that, rather than just getting some quotes on erecting this barrier system along the walkway, she actually does something about it. I will be keeping track of it to see whether or not there is a commitment, and that the minister comes through with it. Times are changing and things need to be changed accordingly. On 13 June, there was a news paper article citing the words of a very honourable man, Mr Mick Dodson, who used to be involved with the Northern Land Council here, and holds many respected positions in the community. As a senior Aboriginal person, he made the comment last week that he is finding the incidence of violence increasing and that it is devastating and beyond comprehension. He was talking fairly specifically about violence against women and children, but he is picking up there on the fact that violence is increasing in our community, that it is devastating and, for many, it is beyond comprehension. We have to adjust our behaviour, our structures, and the way our staff work to cope and deal with these violent situations. Of course, the ideal situation would be that the message goes out loud and strong to the perpetrators of this violence that it will not be tolerated, and that things will be done. However, at the moment, the ministers job is to ensure a safe work place, and that is not occurring. She needs to get those audits done, get the changes made, and make sure her staff do the training that she has talked about. One of the things she mentioned today is the duress alarm. The nurses who have been in contact with me, who work in remote communities where there have been some duress alarms installed, scoff at them. They scoff because, in a number of situations, when you press the button inside the clinic or your quarters, it rings a bell out on the verandah in the hope that somebody might come and help - someone might just pop over and help. Mr Reed: A friend of the basher, perhaps. Ms CARTER: Perhaps a friend of the basher. It is a major problem that you have this bell ringing lonely, in the middle of the night, and nobody is coming. There is nobody to come and help. Dr Burns: Do they have one outside your party room? We hear a few stories about that. Mr Reed: That is how serious you take this, is it? You should be ashamed of yourself. Madam SPEAKER: Order, order! Ms CARTER: This is a serious issue and you should be listening carefully to it. Members inteijecting. 4396
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