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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Health
    The Honourable Stephen Robertson

    URGENT WORK UNDERWAY TO FIX STAFF HOUSING

    Minister for Health
    The Honourable Stephen Robertson

    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    URGENT WORK UNDERWAY TO FIX STAFF HOUSING

    15 May, 2008

    Queensland Health is immediately rectifying maintenance and security problems identified in a very small minority of staff accommodation during a statewide audit, Health Minister Stephen Robertson said today.

    And extra funding will provided to complete the work and build new staff accommodation in various location across the State.

    Mr Robertson said a comprehensive audit of 1,237 Queensland Health owned or leased dwellings found most buildings were of a good or adequate standard.

    “Around 1% (17 dwellings) were classified by the audit team as ‘extreme’ risk, which means regulatory compliance and security requirements were not met such as a lack of fire alarms and/or safety switches and inappropriate screening and/or locks. The team identified significant issues.

    “A further 8% (100 dwellings) were classified as ‘high’ risk, which means regulatory compliance and security requirements were not fully implemented such as smoke alarms not properly maintained. The team identified moderate issues.

    “Every dwelling classified as ‘extreme’ or ‘high’ is in the process of immediate rectification.

    “We have health staff delivering services and living in some of the most remote reaches of Queensland. The safety and security of all our staff is paramount, especially those living in Queensland Health accommodation.

    “When I announced the audit in March, I instructed my department to take immediate steps to repair any security flaws and not wait for the audit’s completion.

    “All extreme or high risk buildings have been or are being rectified as a priority and today I announce an extra $6.8 million to help districts complete this work.”

    Mr Robertson said some of the main problems identified were inadequate or lack of security screening on windows and doors, lack of or poorly kept smoke alarms, locks in need of replacement, inappropriate access to keys, inadequate external lighting, and lack of electrical safety switches.

    He said the audit contained some broader recommendations which will be fully considered.

    They include:

    • Development of minimum standards for staff accommodation;
    • Queensland Fire and Rescue Service to conduct fire safety inspections on all multi-staff accommodation of six people or more which had not been uniformly implemented across the State;
    • Review Queensland Health’s ongoing ownership and management of staff accommodation with a view to considering the engagement of a third party to have this responsibility. In addition, a review should also assess Queensland Health’s total accommodation asset base to determine retention, disposal, reinvestment and upgrade strategies; and
    • Development of a strategy for ongoing inspection and maintenance.

    “I have instructed my Director-General to immediately set up an active program of regular maintenance and security checks across the State and a statewide system for rectification when staff notify management of any problems,” Mr Robertson said.

    “The State Government has provided the biggest single funding injection for Queensland Health staff accommodation in the past few years.

    “The Health Action Plan provided $91 million to purchase and construct new, quality housing for Queensland Health staff in regional and remote areas – this was unprecedented.

    “I’m allocating more money, turning it into a $100 million program that, by the end of June this year, will have placed 312 Queensland Health doctors, nurses and other staff in safe, comfortable, and secure housing.

    “170 properties have been purchased with another 6 being finalised and 88 new residences are being built with the majority already completed or nearing completion.

    “Overall we are providing 264 new dwellings in 67 towns and communities throughout the state from Goondiwindi to the Torres Strait, Palm Island and Doomadgee.

    “They include houses, single and multi-bedroom units, duplexes, townhouses and multi-storey buildings.

    “In addition, $26.8 million is being spent on hospital-based shorter term staff accommodation at Rockhampton, Roma, Injune, Springsure, Lockhart River and Kowanyama and new staff accommodation has been included in redevelopment projects at Gin Gin, Hope Vale, and Erub (Darnley) and Warraber Islands.

    “Recent consultation with health service districts has indicated a need for more staff accommodation and this will be given due consideration.”

    MEDIA: Joshua Cooney 3234 1185