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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 2 Hansard (4 March) . . Page.. 415..


Mr Mulcahy: Mr Speaker, I will speak to the point of order. I do not recall hearing anything that Mr Barr said that is not completely true. I do not think it is out of order.

Members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order! This is going to descend into mayhem. Minister, stick with the subject matter of the question strictly, please, or resume your seat.

MR BARR: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Again, as I indicate, the government will, in partnership with Balloons Aloft, deliver a high quality balloon event for the people of Canberra. It will do so in a cost effective manner. We will do so without the need to resort to personal attacks on public servants. We will not use parliamentary privilege and annual report hearings to smear public servants' reputations. We will not background journalists in order to keep this story alive. There is no conflict of interest, as Mr Smyth seems intent on prosecuting in the media or in annual report hearings. It is typical of the behaviour of Mr Smyth, and everyone else in this chamber knows it.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Resume your seat.

Mental health

MS PORTER: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, could you update the Assembly on the progress of the new mental health facilities in the ACT?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms Porter for the question. As many will know, we have prioritised mental health as a key area for investment and reform. Spending on mental health has increased under the Stanhope government—an increase of around 109 per cent—taking us from being one of the lowest per capita spenders to being one of the highest. Over the next four years, under the 2007-08 budget, the government will provide an extra $12.6 million for mental health services; the current budget includes $3 million annually for expansion and $3.3 million for new capital works.

Part of that investment includes funding for step-up, step-down facilities for both young people and adults. Last month I was delighted to open the new Centacare youth step-up, step-down mental health service known as the Steps program. The 2006 Senate inquiry into mental health unanimously recommended that state and territory governments establish step-up, step-down facilities. The ACT is the first jurisdiction to introduce a facility of this type for young people.

The step-up, step-down model provides an early alternative to acute admission and ensures that young people with mental illness have access to early intervention and more options for support. It provides a bridge as an alternative to acute admission, whether that is dealing with people early, before they require acute admission, or on the way out of an acute facility on their way back to the community.

This new service, funded by the ACT government, will ensure that up to five mental health consumers at a time aged between 14 and 18 will have improved mental health outcomes and opportunities to increase their knowledge, skills and confidence to


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