Page 3436 - Week 10 - Thursday, 20 October 2022

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concerned about the cost, but there are a significant range of exemptions in place. We do not expect people to be thinking about the cost when they are calling an ambulance. If they need those services then they should call them. That includes for another person, if they are in need of the Ambulance Service. If the fee is charged, information on how they can pay the fee, and the exemptions and support that are available, is on the back of the notice for people to have a look at.

MR DAVIS: Minister, what are the risks, and the impacts on the public health system more broadly, if a Canberran delays calling an ambulance because of cost or fear of cost?

MR STEEL: We do not want anyone to not call an ambulance because of the cost. The Ambulance Service is there to support people who need it. There are a range of exemptions and supports available to those who struggle to meet the cost of that. A huge number of Canberrans have the ability to make a contribution towards the costs of delivering ambulance services and do take up private health insurance that has coverage of those costs. But we do recognise that some Canberrans will struggle with that, which is why such a significant range of supports and exemptions are available. I encourage Canberrans to have a look at those when assessing whether they need to get covered.

Health—drug and alcohol programs

MR PETTERSSON: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, how is this year’s ACT budget enhancing the delivery of harm minimisation services to vulnerable and at-risk Canberrans?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mr Pettersson for the question and acknowledge his ongoing and consistent advocacy in relation to people who use alcohol and other drugs, and for more health services for some of our most vulnerable community members. I am pleased to advise members that the 2022-23 budget includes almost $6.5 million to boost alcohol and other drug treatment and support services, as part of a $13 million investment in harm minimisation initiatives.

The Barr government investments are based on evidence, expertise and experience—listening to those with lived experience and those who deliver the services, to ensure that we continue to lead the nation, not just with accessibility of services but with innovative approaches to protect the community. Of course, as we continue to progress with our nation-leading decriminalisation reforms, we have heard the call for appropriate treatment to be available to support those who may be willing to engage in treatment, particularly once the stigma of their drug use has been reduced.

We have heard, from a range of families, that finding appropriate support for themselves or a loved one struggling with a substance use disorder can be challenging. That is why we are funding a new support service for families and carers of those experiencing problematic alcohol and other drug use, and a specific methamphetamine treatment service. We have listened to and responded to concerns from both the community and law enforcement about the increasing challenges presented by methylamphetamine. While the ACT has the lowest rate of recent use of methamphetamine, and it has been steadily declining for over 20 years, we also know

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