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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 102..


MR CORBELL (continuing):

and they want their child in care close to where they live so they do not have to travel across town. Mr Speaker, that is the substantive difference.

This government has moved to put in place demountables to provide additional places. Mr Smyth is saying that the Liberals, if they had been elected-and it is all hypothetical now, I guess-would have put in place demountables to accommodate those 90 places they had already committed to, not places on top of that, which is what this government has done.

This government has put in place an extra 55 places, on top of the commitment given by the previous government, to address child-care demand in Gungahlin. Over 300 families are waiting for additional child-care places in Gungahlin. It took lobbying and argument from the Labor Party, when we were in opposition, even to get the previous government to acknowledge that there was a problem. When I first raised this issue in the Assembly, over six months ago-in fact, at the beginning of this year-the then minister responsible, Mr Moore, said, "There is no crisis."

His department then did an analysis. What did they find? There was a crisis. As usual, the response from the previous government was: "No problem." When the facts were presented to them, the response was: "Oh dear, we had better respond." That is not the mark of a government that has its ear to the ground and understands the issues that people in areas like Gungahlin are facing.

This government does understand those issues. This government is proud to be able to respond to those issues promptly. The fact which members on the other side of this place can never escape is that this government has provided an additional 55 child-care places that would not have been provided if the Liberal Party had been re-elected in October.

Mental health diagnostic services for children

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women) (4.57): Mr Speaker, I want to respond to a question asked by Ms Dundas at question time earlier today in relation to mental health diagnostics for children.

Mr Speaker, the member's question referred to access to psychology assessments for autism spectrum disorder. For historical reasons, responsibility for assessment of children for autism spectrum disorder has been shared between service providers in the ACT. In recent time there has been considerable difficulty in ensuring adequate provision of high-quality assessment services, due to increasing demand in the ACT and the relative lack of trained psychologists in both the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service and the Child Health and Development Service.

I acknowledge that families and children in the ACT have experienced unnecessary added stress because of the fragmentation of autism spectrum disorder assessment services. As an interim measure to address long waiting times, two private psychologists have been contracted by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service to assess all the children who had registered for assessment prior to the end of June 2001.


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