Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 20 October 2022) . . Page.. 3403 ..
Based on the success of this initiative, the mental health and drug alcohol nurses have joined the rapid evaluation and care in the home or REACH team. This tri-service approach supports the primary health, mental health and drug and alcohol needs of people across the ACT who are in quarantine or isolation. The REACH team is supporting clients in the community that may otherwise be without appropriate services and may require admission to hospital. I use this example, and Minister Davidson highlighted it to me, because it is a great illustration that the system needs to respond in a joined-up way to recognise the vulnerabilities and needs of those people who have mental health and drug and alcohol issues.
There are a range of other important services across the ACT government. I know the Minister for Health will probably talk to some of these as well, so I will not dwell on them too long. I think the Minister for Mental Health particularly wanted to recognise the connection between these issues and the importance of us thinking about this in that health context to illustrate that sending someone into custody, having that interaction with the criminal justice system, is not the answer we need. The answer we need is a drug and alcohol response and often a mental health response combined with it.
In conclusion, I simply want to observe that the ACT Greens intend to support this bill today. We believe it is an important reform. We think that this is the sort of discussion we should be having when it comes to drug policy. We welcome the progress that has been made on this bill. We think that at the end of today the ACT will be in a better position than it was in at the start of the day.
Mr Davis is going to move some amendments. I believe there is not support in the chamber for those universally; nonetheless, this bill will be supported in principle. We look forward to the discussion this morning and look forward to continuing to work with colleagues in this chamber who take this health-based approach, the considered approach, and are willing to try to do things differently, rather than just putting our heads in the sand and saying, “We should keep doing it the way we have always done.” That is not going to get our community safer and it is not going to reduce criminal activity. We welcome reform in this space.
MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra—Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Business and Better Regulation, Minister for Human Rights and Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (10.50): I want to speak briefly to put on the record my support for this important bill—one which will continue to reduce the number of deaths and lives ruined by illicit drugs and the impact that has on people’s families and their friends but also one that complements the ACT government’s harm minimisation policy.
This is a bill that has been subject to iterative inquiry and investigation, commentary and contribution, including a detailed inquiry by a select committee. In proposing the amendments, the government has taken on board the views of that committee and of the community and stakeholders. I want to recognise that it has been an iterative and a very productive process to strengthen the bill.
I thank Mr Pettersson for his very hard work in championing this issue and his work with families and with people who have been affected in realising this change.