Published on: June 2022
Thank A First Responder Day
Ms FELICITY WILSON (North Shore) (19:04:35):
I acknowledge that today is Thank a First Responder Day. Could there be a more fitting time to thank our first responders than after the past couple of years? First responders are ordinary people, just like us. They have families, commitments and homes to go to at the end of their working day. They have dinner to make, shopping to do and bills to pay. But they are also extraordinary. They dedicate every day to protecting us and keeping us safe. Whether it is local firefighters battling fires in our homes; paramedics responding to emergency callouts every day; or marine rescue, police and lifesavers working to find missing persons and keep our communities safe, we owe every one of them a great debt of gratitude. We also need to ensure that, as a Government, we continue to support them in this place.
Today I touch on the recent announcement about how the Government is supporting our healthcare workforce across New South Wales. During the COVID pandemic our healthcare services were on the front line, keeping our local communities safe. That terminology is used a lot, but I do not use it lightly. My sister, her husband, my friends and the people in my network are on the front line in our health services, and what they reported back to me was their personal experience and that of their colleagues. Our nurses, doctors, paramedics, and wider hospital and health staff were instrumental and worked tirelessly in fighting COVID. There was a huge amount of strain put on them and on our health system.
Everyone in New South Wales is indebted to our health workers because their efforts were selfless throughout the pandemic. Early on in particular, before we had vaccinations, there was a significant amount of risk for those individuals, and they were doing it to keep us safe and well. We will remember for a long time that they risked their lives to take care of their patients. Our Government is seeking to respond to the need within our healthcare system, noting just how strained our healthcare workers have been and the impact that the healthcare system has faced. We need to expand our workforce. While there has been significant investment in infrastructure through new and upgraded hospitals, we need workers there, not only to care for us but also to support the existing staff across our healthcare system. That is why the Government has committed to a record 10,000 extra full‑time equivalent staff for hospitals and health services across the State as part of the upcoming budget.
This investment will help us care for health staff across the State, providing much‑needed respite for those individuals. It will boost staff numbers in hospitals to deliver quality health care closer to home, ensuring better health outcomes and a brighter future for New South Wales families. This $4.5 billion investment over four years is intended to relieve some of the pressure on existing staff and will ensure that there are appropriate levels of health staffing for our pipeline of new health infrastructure projects. It will include nurses and midwives; doctors; paramedics; pathologists and scientific staff; pharmacists; allied health professionals; and support and ancillary staff, who ensure the continued operations of New South Wales hospitals and the wider public health system.
The new staff will give relief and support to our hardworking health workforce, help normalise hospital services as we move toward a post‑COVID environment and provide additional services delivered by health professionals. It will ensure that we have the staffing profile needed for increased elective surgeries and provide additional staff for newly constructed hospitals. The New South Wales Liberals and Nationals have delivered 1,700 hospitals and health facilities since coming into government in 2011, with a further 110 underway. This funding will ensure that those hospitals have the workforce to keep serving communities in the future. Another boost the Government has announced is $1.76 billion for NSW Ambulance to recruit more than 2,000 new staff and open 30 more stations. Across metropolitan and regional areas, boosts at existing stations and staff for new stations is the support NSW Ambulance needs.
I particularly acknowledge the healthcare staff who work and reside in my electorate of North Shore. They might work at Royal North Shore Hospital, a local medical centre, a GP or a pharmacy. They might be a paramedic or a midwife—they helped me a lot. I acknowledge and thank them. I acknowledge all the first responders. The many people across our local community willing to put their hand up to help others are inspirational. I acknowledge our police from North Shore Police Area Command, stationed at Mosman and North Sydney; our firefighters at Mosman, Neutral Bay and Crows Nest; our SES; and our Marine Rescue at Middle Harbour. I thank the 300,000 first responders across Australia, particularly those in my community.