Royal Women's Hospital Land Bill 2012

Written on the 3 May 2012

I am pleased to rise to speak on the debate on this legislation. I am also pleased that Mr Jennings and the opposition are supporting this important legislation as has been pointed out by my colleagues Mrs Petrovich and Mr Ondarchie.


Even though it is not complex legislation, it will in part enable the state to utilise the site on which the Royal Women's Hospital was formerly located.


This is an area of land I know quite well after spending 10 years -- from 1990 to 2000 -- at the Royal Women's, as it was known then, as well as some areas outside the site. The Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne was not in place when I was at the site, but I spent some time at the Kathleen Syme Centre, which Mr Barber made mention of. That was a teaching facility; it is now going to be a community hub for the residents of Carlton and other interested people.


During my time at the Royal Women's the site also housed the Victoria Cytology Service, an important service that undertakes many aspects of women's care in the screening of cervical cancer. There were many uses of the site. I was fortunate to spend a great deal of time at the Royal Women's. I know the new hospital -- the Women's, as it is now known, and where I still know many people who are doing tremendous work -- is providing a great service to the state of Victoria.


The purpose of this bill is to revoke the permanent reservations for a lying-in hospital over those two adjoining Crown allotments. The bill affects the two sites at the Royal Women's and the Royal Dental Hospital. As Mrs Petrovich pointed out, it is very much a bill that will enable a good utilisation of that land. This bill will remove the outdated permanent reservation and restricted Crown grant for a lying-in hospital. As the hospital was relocated in 2008, the site is no longer required for hospital purposes.


Just to go back to a little bit of the hospital's history, Mr Barber said lots of flowery words were written about the history of the site and the vision of the forefathers. That is a little demeaning, because the hospital provided enormous service to the state of Victoria and to many women over a long period. I think Mr Barber would agree that it provided significant services as a lying-in hospital at that time. It was established first and foremost by two doctors in 1856, but at another site. It was then moved to the Royal Women's site. The Royal Women's Hospital has a proud history of caring for women, dealing with neonatal health issues, premature baby services and other women's health and wellbeing services. It has a proud history, not just in recent times but over many years. This should be a forum to acknowledge that history and the part it plays in many aspects of service delivery, especially to women in Victoria around women's health and also in some leading medical and research areas, as Mr Ondarchie pointed out.


As Mr Ondarchie said, the utilisation of the sale of the site will be undertaken. I think it was Mr Barber who said that the options for the government were yet to be determined. Of course that has to be determined. I do not think that is untoward or a surprise, and I am sure that the minister in the committee stage will undertake a further explanation of that.


As I said at the outset, this is an important bill in relation to aspects of that particular site. It is a fairly straightforward piece of legislation, and I, like other members of the government and Mr Jennings, look forward to the speedy passage of this bill.

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