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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 13 Hansard (6 December) . . Page.. 4037..


Health and Disability—Standing Committee

Report 4

[Cognate report:

Report 4—government response]

Debate resumed from 22 November 2007, on motion by Ms MacDonald:

That the report be noted.

MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (11.29): I would like to start by thanking all members who contributed to the discussion. I also want to say thanks to the government for their considered response to this report. This inquiry, as members of the committee know, went over a lengthy period, and it did consult widely.

Mr Speaker, I just want to make a few comments about some of the comments that Dr Foskey made about this report, because I think there are a few things that need to be set straight. At one stage Dr Foskey quoted three paragraphs and suggested that the committee has been light-handed on the government with regards to this issue. She then went on to say that:

In other words, this is a report that does not go the full distance. It excuses the government in its recommendations by saying that, due to competing resources and the complexity of the issues, the government cannot be expected to cover all the services that make for an optimum situation in regard to mental health and housing.

Mr Speaker, the committee was simply recognising the realities of the situation. She also went on to say:

The only group that benefits from these assertions is the government ...

I disagree with the premise of that statement. I agree that any system to address issues of mental health needs to aim high, but you have to acknowledge the realities of the situation. You cannot wave a magic wand and make people well. There will always be complexities in this area, and it is important that we do not build up people's expectations to a level that they think we can actually provide a magic bullet or a magic pill which will resolve all the issues and take away the problems that are associated with mental ill health. Also, just being a human being, it is not always to do with the fact that you are mentally unwell and have a mental illness; it is sometimes the fact that you just have a personality where you decide to be disagreeable with everybody.

Dr Foskey also talked about the committee focusing on the issue of amalgamations. We did not actually make a recommendation on this, but we did say that we believe it is a concern. She said:

While such amalgamations might be of great assistance to the ACT government, how do they assist community organisations? Most importantly, are amalgamations of more assistance to the people living with a mental illness who are in housing crisis? Who are we trying to serve here?


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