Kathrine Morgan-Wicks, Department of Health Secretary,
The evidence given to the Commission of Inquiry in the past week in relation to the Launceston General Hospital has been very confronting and while we look forward to the Commission’s recommendations next year, we will not be waiting to take action where it is clear it is needed.
It is critical that there is a culture of accountable leadership in our hospitals.
Following discussions with the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Tasmanian Branch, the Tasmanian Government will immediately establish a Child Safe Governance Review of the LGH and Human Resources, with a focus on the handling of serious misconduct such as institutional child sexual abuse.
The Child Safe Governance Review will be personally led by the Secretary, Department of Health, and will be informed by a Governance Advisory Panel established under Section 13 of the Tasmanian Health Service Act 2018.
The Panel will comprise independent experts in child trauma, governance and hospital administration. Unions and LGH staff will be invited to participate as members to make recommendations, through a child safeguarding lens, on the hospital’s:
- organisational structure;
- management and leadership, including role, responsibilities and accountabilities;
- mandatory training in accountable leadership and management;
- mandatory training including mandatory notifications and how to recognise grooming behaviours;
- policies, procedures and protocols, including Quality and Safety Frameworks.
We expect this will result in significant changes to leadership roles.
The governance review will link to system improvements already underway including the One Health Cultural Improvement Program which focuses on workplace values and behaviours, the Child Safe Organisation which will embed child safeguarding practices Tasmanian Health Services across the State.
As part of discussions with victim-survivors, the Secretary has committed to ensuring that victim-survivors will be part of an expert reference group that will provide advice to the previously announced Child Safety and Wellbeing Panel.
The Child Safe Governance Review panel is expected to be established this week. It is expected the Governance Review will report its recommendations to the Secretary by November 2022.
The terms of reference are available here: www.health.tas.gov.au/news/news/child-safe-governance-review
To ensure staff have confidence in reporting any matters relating to child sexual abuse and to enable greater oversight, a Complaints Management Unit will be established within the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Health, meaning concerns do not need to be raised with immediate supervisors or local management. It is expected that this new unit will be operational in coming weeks.
Additional senior staff will also be based at the LGH this week to support staff. Staff will also be encouraged and supported to access wellbeing supports through the Employee Assistance Program, should they require it.
Tasmania’s Premier Jeremy Rockliff said: “We knew the evidence before the Commission of Inquiry would be confronting and there would be serious lessons to learn.
“There is nothing more important than keeping children safe which is why we are listening and acting now to ensure past wrongs are not repeated. It is also important that parents can have confidence in the safety of our health services.”
We also remain committed to accepting and implementing recommendations made next year by the Commission of Inquiry Secretary of the Department of Health, Kathrine Morgan-Wicks said: “We recognise that health professionals in our hospitals want to work in an exemplary organisation and we acknowledge their confidence in our systems and processes has been seriously undermined.
“It is so important the voices of victim-survivors are heard equally, and lessons learned so we can make the future a safer place for children and young people in Tasmania.
“The establishment of this Governance Review shows we are serious about driving change and improvement across all levels of our health services.”
For anyone who is affected, remember that support is available. If you do need to talk to someone, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the following organisations:
- Lifeline (24 hours) 131 114;
- Beyond Blue 1300 224 636;
- Victims of Crime Service 1300 300 238;
- Sexual Assault Support Service (24 hours) 1800 697 877;
- Laurel House Northern Tasmania (03) 6334 2740;
- Laurel House North West Tasmania (03) 6431 9711;
- Blue Knot Foundation 1300 657 380;
- Child Abuse Prevention Services 1800 688 009;
- Strong Families, Safe Kids 1800 000 123;
- 1800 RESPECT 1800 737 732;
- Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467;
- MensLine Australia 1300 789 978; or
Relationships Australia Tasmania 1300 364 277.