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Saturday, May 15, 2021

SPIRE reference group gives voice to community

A Community Reference Group is set to provide a voice for the local community on the ACT Government’s SPIRE project with calls to ensure it provides the opportunity for “genuine consultation”.

Garran Residents’ Association (GRA) spokesperson, Jennifer Berget, said they welcome the announcement of the reference group, however “at this stage, we do not yet know how the reference group will work but we hope that it will provide the opportunity for genuine consultation”.

“We expect all relevant information to be provided to the group and that the community can see the positive results and influence of their involvement, particularly in the areas of safety, traffic, parking, noise, and the helicopter flight path over residences and neighbouring primary school.”

Ms Berget reiterated that the GRA supports expansion of the hospital facilities but would also like to see an ACT Legislative Assembly Committee inquiry in partnership with the reference group.

The inquiry would be in relation to the petition tabled on Thursday 28 November with regards to development at the Canberra Hospital.

“The expenditure of $500 million on the project justifies this public examination of the proposal which will affect, in one way or another, all Canberrans,” Ms Berget said.

“An Assembly inquiry could investigate, amongst other things, how the SPIRE project will fit into the master plan for the hospital precinct (that has not yet been developed). We believe this step will contribute to a much better outcome than the in-house plans which were announced recently.”

ACT Minister for Health, Rachel Stephen-Smith, said the government has already started working through some of the concerns heard from the community and that, at this stage, “we are only in early concept design phase” with the “whole 2020” to work through the design.

“People really thought we were at a much more detailed level of design then we currently are,” she said. “I want to assure people we are at early stage of consumer engagement with this project.”

Ms Stephen-Smith said by working together with clinicians, consumers and the local community, “we can deliver an emergency, surgical and critical healthcare facility at Canberra Hospital that is technologically advanced, fit-for-purpose and meets the needs of our growing and ageing community”.

Works have started to prepare the hospital campus site for the installation of a two-storey modular building which will allow hospital administration staff to be relocated from the footprint identified for the SPIRE project. The modular building is being fabricated offsite and will be ready for installation starting in December.

Enabling works will continue throughout 2020 and will include the relocation of utilities and existing services, ground preparation, and demolition of two buildings.

“By starting the enabling works on site now, we will be ready for construction of the main facility to begin in 2021,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

Expressions of interest for the local community reference group close on Thursday 12 December, with the kick-off meeting to be held early 2020. For more information or to register your interest, visit yoursay.act.gov.au/spire.

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