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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (5 March) . . Page.. 590..


MR PRATT (continuing):

into practice in time for the 2003-04 bushfire season. We would be quite happy if that is the government's intention.

Mr Speaker, I commend at least the amended motion, and hope that we will see improvements to the ACT's emergency management planning in time for the next bushfire season.

Motion (by Mr Pratt ), as amended, agreed to.

Mental health outreach workers-proposed recruitment

MS DUNDAS (6.33): I move the motion standing in my name on the notice paper relating to the recruitment of mental health outreach workers.

That this Assembly, recognising the need for more Mental Health Outreach Workers to provide support for people leaving emergency accommodation, calls on the ACT Government to make the recruitment of more Mental Health Outreach Workers a high priority for the 2003-2004 financial year.

As I am sure this Assembly is aware, I am not going to take the whole 15 minutes to present my case.

This motion calls on the government to make the provision of more mental health outreach workers a high priority for the next financial year. I have moved this motion because I am concerned that the government has not properly recognised the urgent need for increased funding for outreach workers. As few as three or four additional workers would make a significant difference to the unmet need.

Since 1999, the Canberra Schizophrenia Fellowship has been calling for government funding of an outreach program to provide home visits and organised outings for those suffering from mental illnesses, but their calls have so far been ignored. The Women's Centre for Health Matters, in their submission to the status of women inquiry, noted that, due to poor mobility and financial capacity, women in poverty often have difficulty accessing existing counselling services. An outreach service was recommended as the model to help isolated women suffering from depression and stress.

The homelessness needs analysis received submissions from supported accommodation providers and clients who stated that increased support was needed for people making the transition from supported accommodation to independent living. They identified a need for case conferences to coordinate support across services. They also identified a need for workers with cross-disciplinary experience in drug and alcohol counselling, mental health support and homelessness.

The consultation paper for the affordable housing taskforce also identified the need for outreach workers to support people with mental illnesses living in ACT public housing. The homeless men inquiry of the community services and social equity committee heard evidence from the Canberra Fathers and Children's Service that some fathers presenting at the crisis accommodation service could be just as effectively assisted through outreach services, if they were available.


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