Media Releases

Rebecca White MP | Labor Member for Lyons

Human Services Jacquie Petrusma must immediately explain how and why she was kept in the dark over a crisis in child protection.

Shadow Human Services Minister Rebecca White said the Minister’s answers during Question Time were alarming.

“How is it possible that the Minister was only informed of the situation in child protection yesterday?,” Ms White said.

“We know the Department has been aware of the situation for more than three weeks.


“The Minister conceded this morning that both the unions and her own office were briefed on the matter last week.

“It beggars belief that the Minister was kept in the dark until yesterday.

“Minister Petrusma must immediately explain why she was the last to know.

“The Minister has confirmed that 62 of the ignored notifications have been deemed serious enough to warrant a full investigation.

“It’s completely unacceptable that this many serious cases were allowed to go unchecked, some for more than 300 days.

“This is an unprecedented breakdown of Tasmania’s child protection system and it is unbelievable that it took three weeks for the Minister and the Premier to take action."

The child protection system is in crisis with the alarming revelation that more than 200 notifications made in the North West were not assessed.

Shadow Human Services Minister Rebecca White said it’s an enormous failure on the Government’s watch.

“The Minister must immediately explain why more than 200 child protection cases were ignored,” Ms White said.

“When a notification is made to child protection it needs to be assessed as a matter of priority.

“When more than 200 notifications have not been followed up, the consequences for those children could be terrible.

“One notification was left without assessment for more than 300 days.  

“A large number of the notifications were for children under three years of age and many were made as unborn baby alerts.

“This is extremely concerning and could prove disastrous for those children.

“Labor has continually been raising concerns with Minister Jacquie Petrusma about the inadequate resourcing of the child protection system.

“We also asked the Minister to explain why fewer investigations were happening when the number of notifications hadn’t dropped. 

“On each occasion the Minister has given an assurance that all notifications are assessed.

“The discovery of 200 notifications that have not been assessed shows we were right is raising concerns about the figures because the Minister’s hollow assurance simply does not reveal the truth.”

The waiting time to see a gastroenterologist in the public health system in the south of the state is unacceptably long.

Lois Sheridan has been on the waiting list as an urgent patient waiting to get an appointment at the gastroenterology clinic since the 3rd of September 2014.

On the 11th June Ms Sheridan rang again and was informed that while a time frame could not be given for when an appointment might be arranged, there were 488 people in front of her on the list.

“Imagine my shock when hearing this. If and only if they took 2 new patients each week I would still be waiting in four and a half years to receive treatment,” Ms Sheridan said

Tasmanian ambulance paramedics are being stretched to their limit with overtime demands increasing.

Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White said the current demands on workers are unfair.

“Ambulance paramedics are being asked to work an unprecedented amount of overtime shifts,” Ms White said.

“It’s not a good result for staff or patients.

A Right to Information document obtained by Labor shows that ICU nursing staff working at the Royal Hobart Hospital are performing hundreds of hours of overtime every month.

Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White said the new figures highlight how much pressure the hospital system is under.

“If you compare figures from April last year to the same period this year, there is an increase in overtime of more than 40 per cent,” Ms White said.

For close to 12 months the Minister for Health has promised that the white paper on health reform would provide answers to improve Tasmania’s health system.
Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White said the white paper uncovers it will be another four months before there are any details around how services will change and it could be much longer before any of the changes are implemented.
“It has also been confirmed that efficiencies will first need to be found in the health system before any of the reforms can be funded as there is no new money to support the implementation of service changes,” Ms White said.

Health Minister Michael Ferguson must repair his relationship with senior clinicians or risk jeopardising reforms to the health sector.
Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White said the Minister's relationship with senior doctors in the hospital system seems to have deteriorated further.
"A cloud hangs over Michael Ferguson's health reform while he's at odds with senior people in our health system," Ms White said.
"First the Minister was heavily criticised for the make-up of his governing council, now doctors are publicly admonishing him which indicates a serious relationship breakdown.
"There's pressure on Michael Ferguson to repair relationships within health or reform is at risk of failing before it has begun."
Health Minister Michael Ferguson must rule out closing hospital wards as a consequence of savage budget cuts.
Both Australian Medical Association secretary Tim Greenaway and Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation secretary Neroli Ellis have expressed concerns this week about the ongoing impact of the Liberals’ harsh cuts.
Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White said it’s time Mr Ferguson started listening to senior voices in health when it comes to relieving pressure from our hospitals.

Just weeks after dismissing Labor's push to regulate e-cigarettes the Liberal Government has embarrassingly announced they have released a discussion paper on e-cigarettes and that they are seeking public feedback on whether to regulate them

Health Minister Michael Ferguson sheepishly made the announcement during Budget Estimates.

Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White said the announcement proved Labor has correctly identified concerns about the potential harm e-cigarettes can cause and that the government needs to take action.

"Here was Minister Ferguson, fresh from dismissing Labor's policy on e-cigarettes, announcing an almost identical policy could soon be adopted by his own government.

"Just a few weeks ago the suggestion to regulate e-cigarettes was described as nanny statism at its worst by Mr Ferguson.

"Of course Labor welcomes the change of heart from the Government but it must be seen for what it is, an embarrassing backdown."

Health Minister Michael Ferguson has extraordinarily confirmed that staff cuts mean funding allocated to elective surgery cannot be spent.

Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White said the revelation is startling evidence of another broken promise.

"At a time when waiting lists at the Royal Hobart Hospital have blown out by more than 40 per cent, the Liberal Government is sitting on promised money for elective surgery,” Ms White said.

"The reason that more than $4 million will go unspent this financial year is a lack of staff available to perform the surgeries.

"The cruel irony is the Liberals’ cuts to our hospitals to pay for their promises mean they can't actually fulfil their commitment to elective surgery.

"Today's confirmation would be very hard to swallow for people desperately waiting for elective surgery procedures.

"It's not good enough for the Minister to say the money will be allocated down the track, it should have been already spent as they promised." 

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