ACT News


Schools pass but health can do better

The ACT claims the federal government's latest snapshot of Australia's public services shows good progress for the territory's administration.

But the Productivity Commission's latest report on government services, which goes public on Thursday, shows the ACT is struggling with some basic service delivery problems.

Despite the territory recording some of the best health and education results in the nation, Canberra's healthcare customers struggle with bigger out-of-pocket costs and longer waiting times for access to treatment than their interstate counterparts.

The commission, using data from 2011, found that police were behind their interstate colleagues in case clearance rates but had the nation's highest confidence from their community.

The document is the commission's annual report card that compares reported data from the states and territories on the effectiveness of their service delivery across all sectors.

The report found many problems, including the territory's complicated healthcare relationship with NSW that meant the ACT's per-person healthcare spending could not be calculated accurately.


The report showed that the ACT had the longest average emergency department waiting times in Australia as well as the lowest GP bulk billing rate. Almost 13 per cent of Canberrans had deferred GP visits due to cost - more than anywhere else in Australia.

But the report showed high levels of patient satisfaction with the nurses and doctors in ACT emergency departments.

The news was better in education with the ACT's attendance and retention rates leading the nation.

The proportion of year 4 and year 8 students at or above the intermediate international benchmark in maths for 2011 was more than 80 per cent. The report found the territory's children had the highest or equal highest NAPLAN score results for years 3, 5, 7 and 9 in reading and numeracy, and the highest school participation rate for 14 to 19-year-olds.

The proportion of year 4 and year 8 students in the ACT at or above the intermediate international benchmark in maths was more than 80 per cent, the report found.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher was quick to highlight the ACT had the highest proportion of students completing diplomas and above, according to the report, and the largest share of government-funded students who got a job after they graduated.

"I welcome this report," Katy Gallagher said.

"It compares things like the number of children going through the school gate every day to classes where they learn the basics, the speed of response by emergency services, and how many people get public housing and whether it meets their needs.

"Overall, the ACT is delivering good value per dollar spent on public services.

''Also, in some areas - including aspects of the health system - the report highlights services which have already been prioritised for action, and where we will keep improving."