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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 6 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2616..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

unable to access clean injecting equipment, there is a risk that they will continue to share needles and be at a greater risk of contracting blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis C.

The proposed amendments will allow the ACT Chief Health Officer to approve the supply, by a corporation or an individual, of needles and syringes through vending machines and-in line with the protection given to people who provide millions of syringes through existing programs-provide immunity from prosecution if the syringes are then used to inject illicit drugs.

Mr Speaker, I believe these amendments to the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989 are essential to allow increased access to clean injecting equipment in the ACT and to reduce the risk of contracting blood-borne viruses through sharing injecting equipment. I commend the bill and its explanatory statement to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Smyth ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Intoxicated Persons (Care and Protection) Amendment Bill 2004

Mr Corbell , pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (11.22): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, as colleagues will be aware, the ACT has been without a sobering-up facility since 1996. Since this time, intoxicated persons have been placed in the city watch-house for the care and protection of themselves and others. Many attempts have been made to re-establish the sobering-up service since this time.

As my colleagues would be aware, the previous government allocated funding in the 2001-02 budget to establish a night shelter in the ACT consisting of both a sobering-up facility and a crisis accommodation service. Following the last election, the government reaffirmed this commitment.

In 2003, the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services established a crisis accommodation service at Ainslie Village. Recurrent funding of $311,000 is available in this year's budget for the sobering-up facility. A facility is expected to be opened late this year.

Mr Speaker, the Assembly passed changes to the act in 1997 to cover issues such as the power of carers to search intoxicated persons. These amendments have since been found to be insufficient to address the likelihood of people presenting for admission at the facility with dangerous and/or illicit goods in their possession. This presents a potential risk of harm to the person, other clients, staff and/or the facility. The proposed amendments to the act will allow staff to search intoxicated persons and store their possessions for the duration of their stay. If the person declines or is found to be in possession of prohibited substances, they will be refused entry to the facility.

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