The Hon. C.L. WINGARD (Gibson—Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing) (11:51): I rise to support the motion as well and note that my wife, too, is a nurse. We celebrated the International Day of the Midwife on 5 May and today we are celebrating International Nurses Day. Among many others here, I value the opportunity to say thank you to our capable and hardworking nursing staff. Furthermore, I want to recognise the immense contribution of our nurses and midwives to our community. They work day and night, they tend to the sick, they advocate for better health and wellbeing, they administer medication and treatment and they take on the special responsibility of helping to deliver new life into this world. If I have time, I will come back to that in a personal reflection on my granddaughter being born at my house.
With the declaration of a global pandemic last year, nursing staff embraced new roles. Their importance here and around the world, then and now, cannot be underestimated. Locally, South Australian nurses have been involved with airport screening, contact tracing and the repatriation of international travellers, among many other important tasks, to protect our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nurses in our community have a long history of supporting the health and wellbeing of South Australians. In my own electorate, I have been privileged to hear from many nurses and past nurses. Wendy Murphy from Marion, for example, told me that she has been a nurse for more than 50 years—that is half a century and how long I have been alive. Wendy wrote to me to share some of her observations and insights during her time in this profession. I am grateful to Wendy and the other nurses just like her who have dedicated their lives to providing quality care.
Another example of the outstanding local nurses is Helen Wright, who worked at the Repat, where she spent 20 years as a registered nurse and 10 years managing five specialised clinics, including a dementia clinic. Helen's voice is one of the many that I have heard in support of the Repat. Of course, the Marshall Liberal government has been committed to revitalising this health precinct, which was closed by the disastrous decision of the former Labor government as part of their Transforming Health program, despite their promises that they would never close the Repat. Thankfully, the Marshall Liberal government was elected, and now we are investing in this site to provide South Australians with better care closer to home.
Earlier this year, we opened the Neuro-Behavioural Unit, featuring 18 beds. It is an Australian-first specialised unit to care for people living with the severest dementia symptoms. Next to it is the Specialised Advanced Dementia Unit. Patients with complex dementia and medical conditions will be able to access this 78-bed dementia care facility to receive the quality care they need. I was lucky enough to tour there just recently before it opened and I can say it is a wonderful facility, designed impeccably well, and I thank everyone for their involvement with that project.
The Repat's Bangka Strait Ward, a 26-bed ward, opened earlier this year, and cares for patients awaiting services such as NDIS, equipment and housing or other rehabilitation services. Of course, the Repat's 48-bed brain and spinal injury rehabilitation facility provides a patient and family-centred service that includes exercise physiology and a sports gymnasium to support rehabilitation and I thank all the workers there. In fact, that is my area of study as well and I know how important that facility is.
Our Veteran Wellbeing Centre was also opened earlier this year to integrate veteran community services with government support. So again you can see that we are revitalising that site that, as I mentioned, was going to be sold off by the previous government. As veterans transition to civilian life, they will be able to access a range of services at the centre, including advocacy, education, employment and housing support. These upgrades are vital to supporting our local veterans.
There are several groups in my electorate that I know welcome the support and assistance we can offer veterans: the Marion RSL, the Brighton RSL and the Vietnam Veterans' Federation, currently led by Ken Parnell, Jim Nicholson and Bob Ellis respectively. They are among the local community groups benefiting from our support for this vital health precinct at the Repat hospital. I thank each of these groups for their support that they provided directly to their members, local veterans and families. They do an outstanding job.
The investment into the Repat also complements the investment we are making into the Flinders Medical Centre in my local community. At the Flinders Medical Centre, construction is underway to build the largest emergency department. This expansion is part of the $86 million Southern Health Expansion Plan, with $8.5 million being invested directly into the emergency department. Previously, it was 56 beds, but under our expansion there will be another 30 beds, taking it to 86, which I think is absolutely wonderful. I know that a number of the other hospitals are being expanded, but in my area that expansion of the Flinders Medical Centre is greatly appreciated.
As we continue to roll out state-of-the-art infrastructure across the state, we are supporting our health professionals, including our fantastic nurses and midwives, to deliver quality care. Nurses and midwives make a real difference in our community. They so often bear enormous responsibilities with optimism, expertise and energy, having a positive impact on their patients.
The Marshall Liberal government is committed to supporting nurses and midwives as we develop our health system and to ensuring equitable quality access to health care for our local community. We are committed to undoing the damage done by Labor's ill-fated Transforming Health debacle. I am grateful to all nurses and midwives for their work day in, day out in service of our state's health system and for their ongoing support for the physical and mental wellbeing of South Australians.
I will now share a personal story of the wonderful experience I witnessed in my own home when my granddaughter was born. The midwives and the healthcare professionals who helped were outstanding and I was very lucky to have that experience. It was during COVID, when it was hard to get into hospitals and there were a number of things that were going on. My daughter elected to have a homebirth. Unbeknownst to me, she decided that it would happen at my home. I thought a homebirth always happened at your home. It was a wonderful experience.
She rang when her waters broke and told me she was coming to have the homebirth at my home. Clearly this was orchestrated with her mother and I was left out of the loop. I was then very much brought into the equation of having to move the dining table. I asked why we were moving the dining table. My wife said, 'Because we are going to put a pool here.' I thought, 'We have just finished building a brand-new home and a pool in my dining room was not in the plans,' but we built a pool in our dining room and our beautiful granddaughter was born there.
I thank the team that was there. They did an absolutely outstanding job. My granddaughter was actually taken to hospital at the end and had exceptional care at Flinders, where the team was outstanding as well. The note I make to everyone is that if your child says they are having a homebirth check that they are doing it at their home because otherwise you could be duped like me. My granddaughter's name is Olive and we have a little olive tree by our front door. Thank you again to all the wonderful nurses and midwives. In fact, I have to mention that it was a good friend of ours who actually delivered the baby too, so it was very special. Thank you, all.