The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (21:21): I rise to make some second reading remarks relating to the bill, which we will be supporting, and note that it is amending the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (South Australia) Act 2010, which we debated a few years ago and which came into effect on 1 July 2010. I would like to thank the minister's office and officers from the Department for Health for providing a briefing to myself a couple of weeks ago.
My understanding of this legislation is that it is a tidy up of some of those provisions that we passed several years ago, firstly in relation to the regulation of pharmacy premises, which introduced the concept of trusts. This has been reviewed and on review has been found to be too prescriptive and has now been simplified.
There has also been a revision of who may own a pharmacy, such that non-pharmacists have been allowed to own them. It will now be that there will be a requirement to be a pharmacist to own a pharmacy. There will be grandfathering provisions. I think the department estimated that there were five to eight non-pharmacists who will be allowed to continue, and that is of some 10 pharmacies in total. They will not be able to add to their holdings but they can retain, and there is no time limit on that provision.
The other significant change is a standardised time frame for appeals to the tribunal, which is 28 days. I am pleased that there has been some consensus reached on these issues because at the time that we passed this initial legislation we had significant concerns about how things would operate and whether they would operate smoothly.
The final provision within the legislation is the repeal of the Occupational Therapy Practice Act 2005, as occupational therapists entered the NRAS on 1 July 2012. They were one of four professions, including: medical radiation practitioners, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals and Chinese medicine practitioners.
I would like to turn to some lobbying that a number of members may have had from the social work association, known as the Australian Association of Social Workers. They have written to a number of members of this parliament, including myself and our shadow spokesperson, the member for Waite, Mr Martin Hamilton-Smith; indeed, we had a meeting with them. I think they put a very good case that they should be included within the provisions of the health practitioner legislation.
They have undertaken their own survey, and I think a lot of people in our community would be surprised to know that they are actually not covered through any sort of board. They have what is often described as a negative licensing system such that if they join as formal members of the AASW, they need to abide by a code of practice and keep their CPD requirements up to date and so forth. If there is any sort of breach of those, then the only remedy is to kick them out of the association.
In their submission to us they have made a number of very good points, firstly that there is only one-third of social workers who are members of that association and therefore are covered anyway. One of their greatest arguments is in relation to the vulnerability of their client group, a number of whom work within the health field and fall under the auspices of the health department in some way or another, whether it be through funding or working directly within the health system itself.
I advised the officers when I met with them that I would be raising these issues and seeking a response to the government as to what the current plans are in relation to social work and their inclusion in the health practitioner regulation. It is not something that we can do at a state level, so I would not be seeking to amend this piece of legislation but I think it is a very important issue that needs to be raised, and I look forward to the government's response.