Page 4113 - Week 13 - Thursday, 2 December 2021

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Long waits are not the only problem. I note that Lisa, who made a submission to the inquiry into the Drugs of Dependence (Personal Use) Amendment Bill, described watching a young adult seeking and receiving services in the ACT for the dual diagnosis of a debilitating alcohol addiction and a mental illness. On two separate occasions, she wrote:

I observed totally inadequate coordination and referral pathways between residential … drug … rehabilitation services and ACT mental health services. This lack of coordination contributed a serious risk to the client’s life, major problems for the client’s family and a set-back of many months for the client’s rehabilitation.

It is one thing to wish to divert people with drug and alcohol struggles away from the criminal justice system; it is another thing altogether to ensure that alternative services are in place to allow for that diversion. Not doing so will simply result in worse outcomes for people and their families.

On a personal note, my dear brother has schizophrenia. He was diagnosed some 20 years ago and has been looked after so well by the mental health system in Sydney. I have seen how the mental health system works here and, let me tell you, Mr Deputy Speaker, I am so grateful that he is receiving the effective and compassionate treatment that Sydney is providing him and my family. As I heard of the ordeal and trauma that Ms Lawder’s constituent is having to go through in the ACT mental health system, it breaks my heart. I genuinely wish that all Canberrans going through mental health issues would have the same care, affection, compassion and effective service that my dear brother has received and is currently receiving in Sydney.

It is essential that treatment for drug and alcohol disorders and mental health disorders and the capacity for treatment be integrated and coordinated in the ACT. I commend this motion to the Assembly.

MS LEE (Kurrajong—Leader of the Opposition) (4.46): I thank all members for their contributions to this debate. It is an extremely important one. I know that Mrs Jones would dearly have loved to have been here to deliver this motion and the speech as well. It is important to note, just in addressing the amendments that were put forward by Ms Davidson, that there are some amendments that we have noticed and that I alluded to in my opening speech about removing some of the existing services.

It just goes to show how complex this system is. When you are talking about a family who is desperately in need of support and desperately searching for support, it is vitally important that services are accessible, not only that they are there but also that they are accessible to everybody who needs them. I think that just demonstrates how complex this is.

It is disappointing that the amendments try to sort of scrub out the fact that the system we have at the moment is not working. But what I do acknowledge and thank the minister for is that she has agreed to come back to the Assembly. She has also agreed in the amendment that Mr Pettersson’s bill will not be up for debate until this very important issue is debated, discussed and considered by this chamber. I thank her for that amendment.

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