Page 3426 - Week 10 - Thursday, 20 October 2022

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MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Clay for the supplementary. I think it is a little bit early to say how the evaluation will inform our position going forward. As someone who—I will be completely honest about it—was not entirely convinced that this should be our number one priority in terms of alcohol and other drug services and harm reduction interventions, in looking at the results that we have seen so far, and particularly with that co-location of health and other intervention services, and creating that safe space, I think it has been very important. That will inform our potential approach to a safe drug use facility or drug injection facility.

One of the real advantages of that is not only preventing overdoses and being able to respond to those quickly, should they occur, in a safe environment, but also the opportunity that provides to offer a safe space without judgement for people to access other services and supports, and to work towards understanding the reasons for their drug use, which often are associated with adverse childhood events and trauma, and starting to feel safe to explore those reasons that they are using drugs in the first place.

Also, this has demonstrated that the ACT can lead the way in terms of being able to monitor substances that are identified, and identify new harmful substances. We are, of course, the first in Australia to identify this ketamine-like substance that has been dubbed “CanKet” by ANU scientists. This group has not identified a need for any public health alerts to date, based on the substances tested, but that could very well have been the case. I think that demonstrates again an additional value.

Dickson—nurse-led walk-in centre

MS CASTLEY: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, I understand the staff at Dickson walk-in centre were redeployed to support COVID-19 efforts earlier this year. Some constituents have contacted us to express their concern that it has not reopened yet now that COVID mandatory isolation has ended and active cases are trending downward.

Minister, why hasn’t the Dickson walk-in centre reopened yet, and when will it reopen?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: We have publicly announced that the inner north walk-in centre is expected to reopen on 24 November. The reason it has not opened more quickly than that is that Canberra Health Services is undertaking recruitment for staff—to continue to expand our walk-in centre services; and recognising that our walk-in centre staff have been working very hard, and we need to ensure we are not overloading staff and we can provide a full service when the inner north walk-in centre reopens.

As a local member for Kurrajong, I am very keen to see that walk-in centre reopening as soon as possible, but I also recognise that we have to ensure that our staff are able to be well supported. We want to ensure that we have sufficient staff on the ground to operate all five of our walk-in centres at full capacity once the inner north reopens.

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