Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 9 Hansard (7 August) . . Page.. 2601..
trying to blame health officials. I want the minister to stand up in this place, acknowledge the mistakes, say, "Yes, we've stuffed it up. We're going to fix it up but we've stuffed it up,"and to accept responsibility.
MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Health and Minister for Higher Education) (11.40): I think that is about the best we are going to get with respect to bipartisan or tripartisan support for the secure mental health facility. Can I begin by thanking Ms Berry for bringing the motion to the Assembly, and indicate from the outset that the government will not be supporting the amendment moved by Mr Hanson. I think it has been written in a particular way that ensures that the government would not be in a position to support it. I think that is unfortunate considering the opportunity we had here, despite the stump speech that we knew would be given by Mr Hanson, to actually do something good together, as a 17-member Assembly, about what will be and what are, in other jurisdictions, often controversial projects.
From my point of view, having regard to the decision I have taken along the way, I will stand here and take responsibility for the fact that there is no secure mental health unit operating in Canberra at the medium level. I did not hear a lot from Mr Hanson about Brian Hennessy House. Of course he would be aware that there are secure beds in that facility. I do not think he is probably aware of it due to the lack of interest he has shown in the area of mental health—unless issues are raised in the Canberra Times, in which case he becomes incredibly interested in them.
I think we need to get a realistic grip on the fact that there are extensive forensic mental health services operating across the ACT. There are secure mental health beds operating across the ACT. In the adult mental health unit, there are high dependency beds which allow for an extra level of security in that facility. In this budget, the budget which Mr Hanson has been arguing should not be passed, there are extra funds going in to enhance forensic mental health services here in the ACT. The services provided to people are often more critical to their treatment and care than the place where that care and treatment is provided.
Yes, I am guilty of enhancing forensic mental health services during my time as minister. Yes, I have built and taken responsibility for the adult mental health unit, the mental health assessment unit and the plethora of step up, step down and community facilities that I have ensured are funded in the ACT, because not everything relates to one building. Indeed, in a report released yesterday, the ACT was acknowledged for the gains that we have made in the last two terms of government in building the mental health service system across this city—an independent, rational look at what has happened.
We do not have a secure facility yet. We do not have a secure facility for a lot of reasons that Mr Hanson has decided, for want of political convenience, to overlook. For example, there was the very significant push that was provided to me when I first became health minister by consumers not wanting a co-located facility. So it was not poor planning. The secure unit could have fitted on the Canberra Hospital site. Yes, it would have meant that the adult mental health unit's outdoor area would have had to have been smaller, and that could have compromised the quality of the amenity