Doorstop interview, Launch of the Hope Island Respiratory Clinic

E&EO

Minister Robert:
Good morning. Great to be here at Hope Island to launch the third respiratory clinic here on the Gold Coast. I'm joined by Dr Andrew Weissenberger, who is the head of the respiratory clinic here behind us. And of course, Dr Roger Halliwell, who is the chair of the Primary Health Network here.

First of all, I hope everyone has got COVIDSafe downloaded on their phone. It's an extraordinary application. And I think it's leading the world in the number of downloads in per capita, which is tremendous and I'd encourage all Australians to download the app as a core part of helping us or helping the nation keep itself fit and healthy and safe in the current COVID environment.

It's great to be here to have the third respiratory clinic here on the Gold Coast and there'll be a fourth clinic opening in Nerang in the coming weeks for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but it's wonderful.

Roger, I might get you talk a bit about what it means for the Coast, and then Andrew what it means for your practice and how it's going to work.

Dr Roger Halliwell:
So, respiratory clinics are part of the suite of activities to reduce the risk of patients who are unwell and may have COVID-19 from spreading it to other patients.

It keeps sick people away from waiting rooms which might sound counterintuitive, but it is critically important that the rest of general practice continues without exposing patients to a nasty virus.

This is the third clinic on the Gold Coast over 1000 patients have been seen already in the other two clinics, plus a few here. And as Stuart said we're looking forward to Nerang opening later this week.

It's a critical part of the story. Everyone's getting a test because we definitely want to identify all individuals who have COVID-19 so that they can be put through the process of identifying the virus and reduce the risk to the rest of the community.

Minister Robert:
Andrew, will you talk about the practice

Dr Andrew Weissenberger:
Yeah, so as Roger was saying, the GP respiratory claims are really important community part of the response to COVID. And it's really great to have community located centres like ours opening.

So these centres are very safe and accessible for our patients so not only are they tested at a GP respiratory clinic, but they're also clinically assessed and they’re managed so it's more than just testing we are actually looking after the patients as well.

And of course the message is, if you are in any way sick with even the mildest symptoms, then you should be assessed and tested.

Minister Robert:
Questions on the clinic whilst we have the two eminent doctors here, then happy to talk about anything else.

Journalist:
What's the turnaround time on testing at a clinic like this?

Dr Andrew Weissenberger:
Usually within 24 hours, it does depend on the day of the week, that sort of thing of the weekend is a little more challenging and the tests get batched. So, if you if you miss the next batch then it's got to wait till the next one that goes so around the 24 hours, occasionally a little bit more.

Journalist:
Is there a fear that as we get to colder weather and flu season that might the community more?

Dr Andrew Weissenberger:
Well, that's one of the concerns we have and it's also one of the reasons that we want as many people as possible to have their flu vaccine. If we've eliminated influenza from the equation, it makes it easier to identify those patients who may have COVID.

Journalist:
What are the testing criteria?

Dr Andrew Weissenberger:
In this part of the world it's every single person who walks through the door.

Journalist:
Can you talk us through the three clinics, how many Gold Coasters presenting each day?

Dr Andrew Weissenberger:
I think the smallest number is 40 in one day. 40 to 60 is a realistic number. I have the ability to scale up things through style as I need to leisure, so it's really just a matter of matching supply and demand

Journalist:
So is that 40 per clinic?

Dr Andrew Weissenberger:
Yes

Minister Robert:
Great, tremendous, thanks.

And I encourage any Gold Coaster, the clinic, Andrew, is open here every afternoon one to five is that right?  

Dr Andrew Weissenberger:
That’s right Monday to Friday and Saturday morning.

Minister Robert:
So if Gold Coasters are feeling unwell, there's three respiratory clinics soon to be a fourth in Nerang, but for the northern Gold Coast, here's where they can come. They can call your practice Andrew or book online and come straight down. I encourage all Gold Coasters, to do that.
 
Andrew, Roger thank you for your time, any wider questions?

Journalist:
What’s your comments on the Craig International Ballistics contract with the government?

Minister Robert:
Happy to. Craig International has been working in the area of ballistics protection for many, many years in the last few weeks government assigned a number of contracts with Craig, they are just down at Arundel, they're a local company.

They are world leading in soft skin ballistics, which is extraordinary and it's great to see that the federal government procuring ballistic armour, in this case, soft ballistic armour directly from a Gold Coast supplier it is world leading technology. I've seen it before when I was previously one of the defence ministers and it is extraordinary.

Journalist:
Can you just run us through the soft ballistic armour? What it involves, sounds counterintuitive doesn’t it?

Minister Robert:
It does. Normally a ballistic armour plate is hard and solid and takes a round into it. Soft armour is all about how you have a surface that is malleable that is lighter, that is easier to wear, but can still take a ballistic ground into it and to protect the person.

Now the nirvana, of course, would be a ballistic type shirt or jacket that that one could wear all the time I'm not too sure how far away we are from that. But the work they're doing in their soft armour to protect Australian soldiers is world-leading I'm thrilled to see the federal government have signed a contract with a local Gold Coast company, and it just goes to show what Gold Coast entrepreneurs can do. They can beat the very best in the world and make the very best equipment.

Journalist:
Do you have the latest stats on which state or territory, has downloaded the COVIDSafe app?

Minister Robert:
As at this morning, over 5.8 million Australians have downloaded the app which is wonderful to see, as you know we can't give a state by state breakdown because the Commonwealth has committed not to access the data Store in any form, the data Store is only there for state health officials to do the tracing capacity.

Journalist:
And is there any word that developers are doing to make the private safe app compatible with the iPhone?

Minister Robert:
Well right now the app is available on multiple handsets. It requires an iOS 10 or a, an iPhone 5 or above to use it. As we know with Bluetooth the phone itself has some limitations.

Release three went in Thursday night, and that has improved substantially some of the iOS limitations. We’ve been working with our colleagues in the United Kingdom, to find different ways of making the Bluetooth stronger.

Right now, the app works exceptionally well. It works across both Apple and Google platforms, and it works whether it's in the foreground the background, if the phone is locked or unlocked.

So Australians can have great confidence that the app is there, protecting them. Now once Apple and Google make changes to their handsets and into their operating systems to increase Bluetooth, well that will simply make it even more effective.

Journalist:
More than 2,000 people who work in the disability sector took a part in a survey, and only one and four believe the NDIS provides quality support for people disabilities. What's your response to this?

Minister Robert:
The NDIS is a world leading reform. There is no other country in the world that's putting it in place. 365,000 Australians right now are receiving support from it. And 150,000 Australians are receiving supports for the very, very first time.

This year, current financial year, we'll spend over $18 billion. Four years ago, the spend across disability was half that. So it's a world leading system, it's a national endeavour, the amount of taxpayers funds going into support people with disability is rapidly increasing, which is wonderful.

The system's got some way to go. There are still areas where we're seeking to improve it. But right now, as a nation, we should be pretty proud about what we're doing to assist people.  

Journalist:
Are you listening to enough people with disabilities about what they need from the NDIS?

Minister Robert:
The NDIA is of course is covered by a board and then there's an expert advisory group with people, specifically and almost entirely with disability that provide access guidance and advice, not just to me as the Minister, but also to the board of the NDIA.

Journalist:
Why don’t workers in the sector feel like they valued?

Minister Robert:
Well, I think the workers are valued. I look at my own family's experience with my little cousin, not so little now, he is now 30 plus, Joel, and the supports he's had to me incredibly valued support workers that have assisted him.

Journalist:
Are you able to comment on Ann Marie Smith regarding Adelaide on the weekend?

Minister Robert:
I just spoke with Leon Byner on FiveAA in South Australia. It's an incredibly tragic case it is it is heartbreaking. I think the nation needs answers on this.

The South Australian Minister and I spoke on the weekend a number of times. Right now we have a South Australian police investigation, we have the Quality and Safeguards Commission also investigating these tragic circumstances, as is I'm sure the coroner.

The nation wants answers, I want answers, and we'll wait until those investigations are complete. We'll seek to release the information as quickly as possible to the Australian people so they have an understanding of exactly what happened. And we'll look to how we can learn and improve.

One of the key things is when it comes to caring for Australians, this is something we all as a community need to do. We're all neighbours, we're all friends, we're all supporters we’re, we're husbands, we’re mothers, we’re guardians, we all have a responsibility.

One of the sad things I'm hearing about this particular case, is that neighbours hadn't seen this this dear lady for many years, can I encourage Australian neighbours, get out say hello to your neighbours, in a socially distant way of course.

It's one of the things I loved about ANZAC Day, neighbours got out into the front of their street to celebrate ANZAC Day.

And I just encourage all Australians connect with your neighbours. If you haven't seen your neighbour for a while. Give them a call, if able to, knock on their door. Let's connect with people.

Journalist: Just on the COVIDSafe App you’ve said at this stage 5.8 million Australian have downloaded it, what is the magic number that will allow you to comfortable relaxing restrictions, do you have any idea what that magic number is and what the target is?

Minister Robert:
Well the Chief Medical Officer made the point that there are about 18 million Australians over the age of 18 and 83 per cent have a mobile device. So of 16 million 40 per cent is around 6.2 million. They're the sort of numbers the Chief Medical Officer was talking about.

We're already at 5.8 million, which I think is extraordinary for Australians, and I just encourage all Australians download the COVIDSafe app.  I think it's highlighted as the feature app on the Apple App Store and the Google Store, it's about keeping you the individual and your family safe.

Thanks very much.