Legislative Council: Thursday, July 07, 2022


Paediatric Health Services

The Hon. S.L. GAME (15:12): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Attorney-General, representing the Minister for Health and Wellbeing, on the lack of paediatricians in South Australia.

Leave granted.

The Hon. S.L. GAME: The government has stated time and again that they are prioritising the health of South Australians, yet there are still significant wait times for paediatric allergists/immunologists, paediatric audiologists, paediatric dietitians, paediatric exercise physiologists, paediatric gastroenterologists, paediatric occupational therapists, paediatric orthopaedic surgeons, paediatric physiotherapists, paediatric podiatrists, paediatric psychologists, paediatric respiratory physicians, paediatric rheumatologists, paediatric social workers and paediatric speech pathologists. The wait times are even longer if you live in a regional area. The possibility of being seen before 18 months if you are going through the public system is next to impossible.

Early intervention, diagnosis and therapies are crucial. Time is of the essence when diagnosing disabilities, disorders and chronic conditions in young children. There are not enough paediatricians and childhood health specialists in South Australia to deal with the current needs of families. Even after diagnosis, everyone knows about the chronic delays with the NDIS funding plans and, of course, cumulatively there are obvious delays and shortages in treatment and therapy because, as previously mentioned, there are simply not enough paediatric specialists.

I cannot find anything in the budget estimates to address the chronic shortage of paediatricians in training in South Australia—nothing. My question is: what is the government doing to address this?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Attorney-General, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:13): I thank the honourable member for her question. As it relates to the health portfolio, I will be referring that to my colleague in another place and bringing back a reply.