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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 05 Hansard (Friday, 14 May 2004) . . Page.. 1955 ..

MS MacDONALD: Mr Speaker, I would be happy to rephrase the question to relate it to the initial question. My question to the minister is: what initiatives is the government undertaking in relation to tobacco education and education on drug use for the indigenous community?

MR CORBELL: There is, of course, a range of other programs which the government has put in place. I am very pleased in particular to highlight to members that $642,000 will be provided over four years to target the illegal supply of tobacco to minors. I would have thought that all members of this place would be interested in that issue. In fact, I know that some members of the opposition and some members of the crossbench have criticised the government for not adequately addressing this issue.

I have checked the steps the government has taken in the past in relation to addressing the illegal sale of tobacco to minors. The real problem is that it is very difficult to prove. Unless you are there at the time of the sale, it is very difficult to prove that someone has illegally sold tobacco to a minor.

Mr Smyth interjecting—

MR CORBELL: I know that Mr Smyth does not like it because the government is listening to, responding and addressing these issues, but this program allows the government to effectively test whether retailers are abiding by the law. It involves asking young people through an appropriate legislative framework to seek to purchase tobacco and see whether the retailer abides by the law. Clearly there are concerns in the community. There is a common concern right across the country that some retailers do sell tobacco to minors. That is something that the government does not endorse in any way. We want to catch out the people who do that. This money will allow us to do that.

The funding will cover set-up costs, such as equipment and legal training. Two extra staff will be engaged within the health protection service in relation to the program so that we can catch out the retailers that do the wrong thing. I think that that is a very positive public health measure.

In addition, Ms MacDonald asked me about drug support for the indigenous community. I am very pleased to advised that the Gugan Gulway Youth Aboriginal Corporation and the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service will receive funding for two dual diagnosis workers—another election commitment fulfilled by the government—to allow those organisations to provide the support that is needed to people with complex dual diagnosis needs.

In addition, just under half a million dollars will be provided as further support for the case management of clients using pharmacotherapy treatments who have complex needs. The government has a comprehensive program for the next four years, with an increase in funding of over $1.5 million over that time, to improve access to services and support for indigenous people, for young people, for schoolchildren and for teachers as well as drug users themselves so that we can continue to reduce harm in our community and we can continue to educate people in our community about the risks associated with illicit drug and alcohol use.

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