Page 74 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 8 February 2022
MS CASTLEY: Minister, what do you say to the 59 per cent of Canberrans showing up to hospitals seeking emergency mental health care who are forced to wait longer than clinically recommended?
MS DAVIDSON: I expect that we will find that the time periods before you can see someone at emergency vary quite a lot over the course of the year. It depends a lot on what else is happening at the time. People who are going to hospital to seek mental health care often have quite complex needs and it can take quite some time to ascertain exactly what clinical needs they have, whether there is a combination of physical and mental issues or drug and alcohol issues as well. To provide the proper care to people, it is worth investing the time in doing that. It is also why we have invested in more beds in Canberra Hospital, such as the opening of ward 12B for subacute care, so that there are places that people can go, so that they can get out of emergency and start receiving that longer term health care sooner.
MR PARTON: Minister, why has your government not done more to ensure that mental health care services are meeting demand?
MS DAVIDSON: I will remember that the next time I am going in to have a talk to the Treasurer and asking for even more than a nine per cent increase in funding for mental health services. The increase in funding for mental health services has been quite significant over a number of years recently, but particularly in recognition of what has been happening during this pandemic. A lot of people have been really struggling with their mental wellbeing. That is quite normal when you are experiencing the kinds of economic and public health issues that we have experienced all over the world over the past two years. Canberra is no exception. That is why we have increased our mental health services so significantly and why we are continuing to invest in mental health services. For example, we have tenders out at the moment for new services in treating eating disorders. We are also looking at what is happening with the new Safe Haven and the additional resources that have been provided to PACER to see whether there are lessons that can be learned from that that can be applied at a greater scale or could be otherwise improved so that people do not end up in distress and needing to go to emergency. The real aim is to reduce the number of people who are experiencing that kind of crisis by delivering better health care in the community.
Schools—use by community groups
MR BRADDOCK: My question is to the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs. Minister Berry, we know that community groups make a great contribution to Canberrans’ health and wellbeing. What is the Education Directorate doing to support access by community groups to Education Directorate facilities out of school hours?
MS BERRY: I thank Mr Braddock for his question. Our schools are primarily places for students to learn and for teachers to provide a great education and for school staff to work. I think we always need to have front of mind that that is what our schools are for. Of course they are facilities that are used and loved and utilised by the community, with the generosity of those school communities, as well. Every time we build new