Fitzharris backs down on closure of hydrotherapy pool at Canberra Hospital

Ian Bushnell 15 May 2019 25

The hydrotherapy pool at Canberra Hospital won’t be closing at the end of June.

The hydrotherapy pool at the Canberra Hospital will stay open after Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris yielded to a concerted community campaign backed by the Canberra Liberals.

The pool was due to close at the end of June, with users expected to travel to the new purpose-built facility at the University of Canberra Hospital in Bruce but this raised issues for people on the southside, particularly those with mobility issues and needing to use public transport.

The Liberals launched a petition and Opposition health spokesperson Vicki Dunne brought the issue into the Legislative Assembly today (Wednesday) where Ms Fitzharris responded to her motion calling on the Government to keep the pool open until a replacement could be provided on the south side.

With members of Arthritis ACT looking on from the gallery, Ms Fitzharris moved an amendment for the Government to agree not to close the Canberra Hospital pool until an appropriate level of access at other suitable locations on the southside can be continued.

It also called on the Government to continue to work with stakeholders to include their input in work under way to determine the current demand and usage of hydrotherapy and warm-water facilities across the ACT.

The report on that work, being conducted by the Nous Group, is due in mid-June and the Government is to report back to the Assembly by the last sitting day in August.

Contention over appropriate water temperatures for hydrotherapy and warm water exercises prompted Mrs Dunne to move a further amendment that water be heated in the range of 34-36 degrees C, which was accepted.

Ms Fitzharris told the Assembly that the Government had decided to close the ageing pool for safety and maintenance reasons, which presented risks to users and staff.

She said the Government had believed that there had been agreement in the community that rehabilitation services would be relocated to the new sub-acute University of Canberra Hospital, where there is a state of the art hydrotherapy pool which mirrors arrangements at the Canberra Hospital.

But she acknowledged a significant increase in the number of people requiring hydrotherapy, 40 per cent in the past three months, and said the current work by the Nous Group would seek to understand that growth in demand and how to meet it, including assessing the supply of facilities in the ACT.

“If we do need to increase access to services the Government will do that,” she said.

Ms Fitzharris said the Government would ensure any private facilities used and their water temperatures were appropriate.

Mrs Dunne said the Minister had folded like a pack of cards and the Opposition would be holding her to account, particularly on providing facilities that were appropriately heated.

“This is great news for every hydrotherapy pool user in Canberra’s south,” Mrs Dunne said.

“I still do not understand why the Health Minister wanted to unfairly discriminate against health patients in Canberra’s south.

“It was wrong for Ms Fitzharris to put people in Canberra’s south through this stressful ordeal.”

There had been suggestions that the new Stromlo Leisure Centre due to be completed in 2020 would be able to host hydrotherapy sessions but it will be heated to 31-32 degrees C, which will only be suitable for some warm water activities.

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25 Responses to Fitzharris backs down on closure of hydrotherapy pool at Canberra Hospital
John Moulis John Moulis 5:08 am 24 May 19

So their pork barrelling plan to move the hydrotherapy pool from the Liberal voting southside to the Labor/Greens voting northside isn’t going ahead. They didn’t think they’d get away with that, did they?

Raewyn Bastion Raewyn Bastion 8:54 pm 16 May 19

Great result

hartl3yjess hartl3yjess 10:58 am 16 May 19

Great news. For the interest of South Canberran’s (and anyone else), Hartley Hydrotherapy is a well established hydro pool located in Hughes, ACT and is available to members of the public and organisations. If you would like further information, please visit or contact the pool managers directly on 5100 3264.

bj_ACT bj_ACT 10:27 am 16 May 19

How many backdowns can one Minister have across her portfolios before the Chief Minister starts to question her ability to perform her job to the level expected by the Canberra public?

Nari Strange Nari Strange 9:00 am 16 May 19

So he should back down. Selfish and thoughtless fellow.

Keran Niquet Keran Niquet 7:57 am 16 May 19

Common sense at last. Most unusual for our town council!

Raewyn Bastion Raewyn Bastion 9:52 pm 15 May 19

Great result

Richard Flanigan Richard Flanigan 9:33 pm 15 May 19

Was everyone expected to use the big red tram ? Oh, that's right it doesn't service Southside or Bruce.

    Morris Reinbear Morris Reinbear 11:23 am 16 May 19

    Not yet. They're stages two and three. Coming in the next few years.

    Damaris Wilson Damaris Wilson 2:59 am 17 May 19

    Richard Flanigan patience!

    Siobhan Carrigan Siobhan Carrigan 6:49 pm 17 May 19

    Damaris Wilson patience indeed. It now takes me 3 hours plus to commute to work and back compared to 1.5 hours before 29 April.

    Damaris Wilson Damaris Wilson 12:23 am 18 May 19

    MaryAnne Siobhan Carrigan I hope they fix the timetables soon, then - that is shameful. I am sorry. 😯

    Siobhan Carrigan Siobhan Carrigan 7:56 am 18 May 19

    Damaris Wilson my bus was scrapped! Thanks for your comment. 😊

    Helen Reardon Helen Reardon 12:44 am 24 May 19

    Richard Flanigan Further stages have been delayed by a few years because our local cocky Labor party was shocked that the just as cocky Federal Labor party didn’t win government and so won’t be getting all that money that had been promised. I won’t be holding my breath for further tram lines any time soon.

Dianna Barrett Dianna Barrett 9:13 pm 15 May 19

Fantastic news!

Louellyn Violet Louellyn Violet 9:10 pm 15 May 19


Jenny Roppola Jenny Roppola 7:36 pm 15 May 19

Congrats to all the people who rely on this facility. Big THANKS to Bec Davey for the massive push.

Melissa Pearce Melissa Pearce 7:07 pm 15 May 19

Well done Bec Davey xx

Maria Greene Maria Greene 6:55 pm 15 May 19

The newpool wasn't even available most of the time. It's amazing that she listened for once. Now if the Woden suburbs could have their excellent bus system back from the disastrous new one I might believe this govt works for us. Highly unlikely though

Susan Loring Susan Loring 6:40 pm 15 May 19

So I still wonder why there was previously no consideration for northside people who were obliged to travel to the Canberra Hospital?

    Louise Woodford Louise Woodford 9:16 pm 15 May 19

    Susan Loring agreed. Used to take forever to get out there before and now takes even longer. People who need to use these services need access on both sides of town. With my son we ended up paying privately due to the waitlist for the service at TCH and getting there.

    Susan Loring Susan Loring 9:27 pm 15 May 19

    Louise Woodford, yes the problem is certainly not a southside/northside problem but a need for easy access for all. Southside is as far out as Lanyon(?), Northside is far out as Forde(?). Keeping the whole of Cbr is never going to be easy. I hope your son is doing well.

Dianne Thornton Dianne Thornton 6:23 pm 15 May 19

Wise decision

Tommy Southern Tommy Southern 6:09 pm 15 May 19

Great news. So many people were going to be impacted by this so very glad to see common sense has prevailed.

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