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ACT Election 2020: In Conversation with Vicki Dunne MLA (Canberra Liberals)

2 October 2020

In September HCCA held a series of online (Zoom) events – In Conversation with Candidates. We spoke with the health spokespeople of each of the main parties about their vision for our local health system and response to the priorities HCCA has identified.

The final In Conversation event was with Vicki Dunne MLA, Canberra Liberals spokesperson for Health and outgoing member for Ginninderra, if you missed it you can watch the full recording here or below.

In her opening statements Ms Dunne highlighted the Liberal’s desire to support the ACT health system to become a national leader in health outcomes (at 8:26).

Ms Dunne announced the Canberra Liberal’s commitment to supporting palliative care services in the ACT including the establishment of a dedicated palliative care ward at the Canberra Hospital and supporting community based palliative care services including the development of the Palliative Care ACT’s Palliative Care Hub and respite service (at 19:11). Ms Dunne also announced that they will not only support the development of the hub but work with Palliative Care ACT on finding land to build a purpose-built respite facility.

Ms Dunn reiterated the Liberal party mental health announcements focused on acute services including the development of 20 acute mental health beds at Calvary (at 10:18), the development of a residential facility for women suffering from acute perinatal depression and anxiety (at 10:50), the continuation of the Police, Ambulance and Clinician Early Response (PACER) program (at 10:42) and bringing forward the funding for the eating disorders facility (at 11:59).

Ms Dunne also emphasised the Liberal party’s commitment to improving access to health services through increasing the bulk billing rates in the ACT (at 12:24), adding an additional 10,000 elective surgeries to help reduce wait times (total 70,000 over the next term, at 35:57 and wait times at 16:38) and to run a trial of a central booking system to help people find the closest GP with availability (at 16:00).  She also noted the need for more services on the southside of Canberra and highlighted the Liberal party commitment of $5 million to develop a hydrotherapy pool at the MS Australia Wellbeing Hub in Deakin in partnership with the John James Foundation and MS Australia (at 9:15).

On the topic of the needle and syringe program at the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC), Ms Dunne stated that the Liberal party would not support any needle and syringe program at the AMC (at 57:15).

There were a range of other questions that were asked which we have listed below with quick links to the time stamp in the video:

  • What is your timeframe for the palliative care ward, how many beds and how much do you think you would invest? (at 23:31)
  • What do you mean by the statement that Canberra has poorer health outcomes? (at 25:45)
  • We received quite a few comments from members about how you are going to fund the increase in health services when you are reducing your revenue base through cutting and number of taxes. Also, we are set to lose around 8% of the ACT Govt revenue in the next four years with the loss of $1.6bn in our share of the GST revenue. How will you be able to afford to deliver on your plans? (at 26:49)
    • Follow up: What do you see as the role of consumers and carers to help you identify the efficiencies? And How will you improve the consultation processes with consumers and carers? (at 31:19)
  • We know that there are a number of specialties where there are significant waiting times. What strategies are you going to use to ensure we get the workforce in Canberra to deliver the care consumers need.  How will you attract and retain staff? (at 35:57)
    • Follow up: How are you going to address the culture issues identified in the Cultural Review? Are you committing to continuing the work set out in the Cultural Review? (at 39:34)
  • Can you tell us more about what a Liberal Government will do to address the need for more subacute mental health services? (at 41:54)
  • We notice that you are looking to trial a GP urgent care program for 18 months. Can you tell us more about it? And how do you think they will complement the existing 5 walk-in centres. (at 45:45)
    • Follow up: I’m assuming it’s based on the WA model of urgent care clinics. Is that the case? (at 49:48)
    • Follow up: Would there be a co-payment for that service? (at 50:50)
  • What are your thoughts about the Labor proposal to build an elective surgery centre as part or on the grounds of the University of Canberra? (at 51:36)
  • Given that you are have announced a substantial change to the design with the relocation of the ambulance entrance to Yamba Drive. This is likely to have a significant impact on the Canberra Hospital campus. Would a pause on SPIRE make more sense so that you can complete the master planning? (at 52:55)
  • What is the Liberal Party’s position on needle syringe programs and when can we expect to see this introduced at the Alexander Maconochie Centre? (at 57:15)
  • Will we be seeing some announcements on justice health from the Liberals? (at 58:32)
  • Who will be the Health Minister in the coalition government? (at 59:09)

The ACT election commitment costings for the Canberra Liberals is on the ACT Elections website here

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