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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 15 Hansard (14 December) . . Page.. 4822..


MR HARGREAVES: Mr Speaker, his question goes to whether we have confidence in the financial management of the ESA. I will not put up with his snide comments about their lacking ability. I have every confidence in the ESA and it is about time that that person across the chamber started to instil confidence in our firefighters, in our Rural Fire Service, in our SES, in our ambulance officers and in the people who support them, because without the support of this place their job is doubly difficult.

As I said, I will bring here yet again the constitution of the Treasurer's advance. I put on the record of this place that I am heartily sick and tired of the attacks that this member of the opposition makes on the good men and women who fight fires, clear up after storms, and go out in the middle of the night to try to stop people from dying from heart attacks. They are superb human beings and this bloke is not fit to walk in their shadows.

Suicide prevention

MR SESELJA: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, the suicide prevention strategy was released by the ACT Department of Health in November 2005. In a draft of the strategy it was proposed to "expand life skills programs that focus on resilience building for apprentices and trainees throughout the ACT". In the final report that recommendation was changed to "explore options for building on life skills programs ... for apprentices and trainees throughout the ACT".

Minister, why has the government watered down this recommendation? Is it because of a lessened commitment to the expansion of life skills programs for apprentices and trainees or is it due to budgetary constraints?

MR CORBELL: The government has not watered down the recommendation. The government's record speaks for itself. Only last week I had the pleasure of attending a graduation ceremony for the OzHelp Foundation. OzHelp receives over a quarter of a million dollars from ACT Health, and therefore from the ACT government, to provide dedicated support, training and information to mostly young men, but also young women, working in the construction industry.

This is a group of young people who traditionally are not identified as a high priority in terms of mental health and life skills development, but through the work of organisations such as the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, the Master Builders Association of the ACT and a range of other construction companies in Canberra, OzHelp Foundation has put together a comprehensive program that provides life skills and helps to build resilience and the capacity to manage crises. The government supports this program very significantly with over a quarter of a million dollars alone just for that program.

I think that demonstrates the government's commitment to investing in this area. There has certainly been no watering down of our commitment in relation to building life skills for young people.

MR SESELJA: I ask a supplementary question. Minister, why was the exploratory work that is recommended in the final report not done as part of the research associated with preparing the report?


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