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Questions about the internal parliamentary medical service

Vaseline 3 months ago

The Senate remains unclear about when an internal medical service, proposed in former sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins’ report on the culture of Parliament House, will receive funding from the federal government.

Setting up an internal medical service during sitting weeks was part of the recommendations in the Set the Standard report released in November 2021. It suggested that the Department of Parliamentary Services should “lead the establishment of a Parliamentary Health and Welfare Service”.

The Jenkins report recommended that the service should provide basic physical and mental health services, offer on-site services at Parliament House and be managed by practitioners with knowledge and understanding of parliamentary workplaces.

It was recommendation 26 of 28 recommendations made to improve the workplace culture of parliamentary workplaces so that politicians, their staffers and civil servants would work in a safer workplace.

Shadow Minister Jane Hume asked the Department for Parliamentary Services in February why greater priority had not been given to progressing the recommendation, given that a feasibility study into the service had been completed in November 2022.

Hume said the Senate only received a copy of the feasibility study in February, despite having been asking this department for a copy for some time.

The feasibility study carried out by the Strategic Development Group estimates that a GP based at Parliament House for 20 weeks would cost $361,000 a year.

Those costs include a $300,000 salary, $48,000 for administrative support, software licenses estimated to be worth $3,000 and a $10,000 allocation for medical consumables.

“I am deeply concerned that the running cost of a GP service in the building for weeks at a time, $361,000, is almost identical to the amount the Senate Department has spent on designer furniture in the last 12 months. said Hume.

“It seems unreasonable that this is not given more priority. Have you sought funding to pilot and implement the 2026 recommendations?”

The Department of Parliamentary Services noted Hume’s questions and the response confirmed that a request for funding from the federal budget had been made last year.

“A proposal regarding the activities of Recommendation 26 was submitted to the government for the 2023-2024 budget cycle. Consideration was then deferred to the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook process,” the response said.

“The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has advised that the Cabinet’s deliberations on funding proposals are confidential to preserve the freedom of its deliberations.”


Set the standard assessment: two years later, have we made progress?