Inquiry into Dhulwa Mental Health Unit report delivered to Government


Today, the Inquiry into the Legislative, Workplace Governance and Clinical Frameworks of Dhulwa delivered its final report to the ACT Government to improve workplace safety and service delivery at Dhulwa.

“This inquiry was commissioned by the ACT Government in acknowledgement of the seriousness of the workplace safety and clinical practice issues raised at Dhulwa earlier this year,” said Minister for Mental Health Emma Davidson.

“At the time, I said the Inquiry would have some hard questions to answer and would need to look closely at many aspects of Dhulwa to help find a way forward in improving services for the mental health community.”

“The Inquiry’s final report makes for difficult reading. It highlights that the current workplace and clinical frameworks are not meeting the needs of consumers and staff, impacting the quality of care delivered to Canberrans with mental health needs.”

The ACT Government acknowledges the 25 recommendations from the Inquiry, noting they are broad and cover a range of matters to improve the functioning of the unit and to drive continuous improvements for creating a safe environment.

“We are taking the recommendations in this report very seriously and will work across Canberra Health Services (CHS) and Dhulwa leadership and with unions and employees to ensure we have an integrated and coordinated response,” said Minister Davidson.

“The issues raised in the report are very complex and not all can be resolved immediately.”

“This report is only the start of an evolving process with a proposed draft implementation program, and we are committing to responding to the recommendations early next year.”

In considering how to best deliver on this safety culture and the recommendations, the ACT Government recognises that to effect change, all stakeholders will need to be committed to working collaboratively.

Since the start of the inquiry, initial work has already been undertaken in anticipation of the recommendations, including:

  • Recruitment of a Clinical Nurse Educator to structure and facilitate team education programs and reinvigorate the Safewards model in Dhulwa.
  • Introducing new occupational violence staff training which 95 per cent of Dhulwa staff have completed thus far.
  • Daily safety huddles during shift changes to identify any potential issues that may pose a risk to team members or consumers.
  • The introduction of a new assessment tool called Dynamic ISBAR (Introduction, Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendations/Read back).

“I would like to thank Ms Deegan and the Board of Inquiry for their work and the final report, as well as everyone who contributed to the inquiry, including consumers, carers, clinicians, current and former staff at Dhulwa, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation ACT (ANMF) and CHS,” said Minister Davidson.

“We remain committed to ensuring best clinical practice and safety at Dhulwa for staff and consumers and look forward to working closely with CHS and the ANMF to deliver positive change.”