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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (4 June) . . Page.. 1844..


Mental health facilities

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, on 20 May you attended and launched a mental health community forum as part of Schizophrenia Awareness Week. The forum addressed the issue of responding to the crisis in mental illness and discussed the proposed time-out facility. With regard to the time-out facility, the following comments were made by Detective Sergeant Matt Innes of the AFP:

... there is a great deal of benefit ... it would assist to re-establish medication, calm down and assess ...

Mr John Bubear, team leader of the mental health Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team, said that a time-out facility "would be of great benefit to both the police and CATT". Chief Magistrate Ron Cahill said:

I applaud this initiative to find an alternative course ... it would be less stressful for a Magistrate to have a third choice.

He also said:

I think it is a very exciting idea that could save lives and take the pressure off families and the community.

Since that forum, Dr John Howard of the Ted Noffs Foundation has also commented in support of the time-out facility. We already know that both the Schizophrenia Fellowship and the ACT Mental Health Foundation are very supportive of such a facility. Chief Minister, do you now accept and agree that the community want a time-out facility? Will you listen to their repeated requests and grant them such a facility?

MR STANHOPE: I have never for a second thought or suggested that a time-out facility was not a worthwhile initiative. A number of other things were said at that forum that Mr Smyth has not relayed to us. For instance, Mr Cahill, at the end of the address in which he did say the very things that Mr Smyth has just attributed to him, said, "Of course, these initiatives cost money. Of course, these initiatives are driven by available resources. Of course, there is a whole range of other initiatives that we could adopt in relation to health and the health portfolio if only there were more money available." You will recall, Mr Smyth, that those are some of the other things that Mr Cahill said in his address.

Mr Cahill went on to make the novel suggestion that he would perhaps support a 1 per cent levy on all taxpayers in the ACT to be hypothecated for expenditure on health. Mr Smyth, did you endorse that suggestion of the Chief Magistrate? Do you support that suggestion that Mr Cahill made at that forum as well? Mr Cahill would support a 1 per cent levy on every taxpayer in the ACT to be hypothecated for health in order to fund initiatives such as the time-out facility for people facing mental issues. I think that that comment of Mr Cahill's does put some perspective on the debate.

There are a whole range of things that it would be wonderful for us to be able to do, aren't there, Mr Smyth? You know that from your time in government. You know that as somebody who has managed a departmental budget. You know as somebody who has sat


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