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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13362


Mrs GRIGGS (Solomon) (19:31): I rise today to bring to the attention of the House, through my motion, the need to recognise the National Critical Care and Trauma Centre, based in my electorate, as an outstanding facility born out of the horrific 2002 Bali bombings. The National Critical Care and Trauma Centre was an initiative of the then health minister and now Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Tony Abbott, who to this day remains a champion of this essential service. The 12th of October 2002 was a day that will forever haunt Australians and Indonesians. It was one of the darkest days in our joint history. For Territorians the attack on Bali was not only an attack on one of our closest neighbours; it was an attack on a place that we love and visit so often. I am told that some 20,000 Australians can be in Bali at any one time. Ten years ago 202 people were killed in the Bali bombings, with 88 Australians and 38 Indonesians among the victims. Another 240 were injured, many of them suffering major burns.

Many of the injured were transferred to the Royal Darwin Hospital, and it is largely thanks to the efforts of the incredible staff at the hospital that many of these people are still alive today. Within 62 hours of the bombings Royal Darwin Hospital medical staff had resuscitated 61 patients and evacuated 48 patients to burns units across Australia. In total, over 100 patients were treated, 70 of them critical. Former Prime Minister John Howard said recently of staff at the Royal Darwin Hospital:

The response … organised through the RDH, was a triumph of what I think I can be described as the gentle efficiency of Australians when faced with a great crisis.

It is important to acknowledge the Royal Perth Hospital as well. They treated 28 burns victims after the bombings. It is widely accepted that, while both the Royal Darwin Hospital and the Royal Perth Hospital carried out outstanding work, neither hospital was resourced well enough to handle the scale of this terrible tragedy. As I said, Tony Abbott oversaw the foundation of the National Critical Care and Trauma Centre. He said at the time that the centre would provide not only the Northern Territory but Australia with a first-class national health emergency response point to deal with disasters and major incidents in our region. The official website of the National Critical Care and Trauma Centre says the centre contributes to the Northern Territory economy by injecting $9.2 million per year to fund 58 medical, nursing and allied health positions, and it offers more than 1,300 training places. The establishment of the National Critical Care and Trauma Centre has enabled our ability to respond to incidents in the region, as was the case with the second Bali bombings in 2005; the 2008 assassination attempt on East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta; the 2009 Ashmore Reef SIEV36 incident; and the Pakistan floods in 2010.

Much of the National Critical Care and Trauma Centre's success is due to the executive director, Dr Len Notaras AM. Dr Notaras coordinated the hospital's response to the Bali bombings in 2002 and was awarded membership to the Order of Australia in 2003 in recognition of his outstanding work. It is important to also acknowledge Dr Didier Palmer, Director of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Royal Darwin Hospital, and Dr Gary Lum. All three men were instrumental in the foundation of the National Critical Care and Trauma Centre. I understand that to this day they continue to be strong advocates and champions for ongoing support and funding of this essential service.

I call on the government to ensure that there is wide acceptance of the outstanding clinical and academic leadership of the National Critical Care and Trauma Centre and call on the government to guarantee ongoing support and funding of this essential facility within my electorate. I commend the motion to the House.