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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 2 Hansard (8 March) . . Page.. 506..


MR GENTLEMAN (continuing):

she helps coordinate outings with others with visual impairment. Sharon's volunteering embodies the second tradition of the Commonwealth Games, and that is community spirit.

Not to draw away from the fierce competition and rivalry, the Commonwealth Games is an event that is about people from around the globe and about international community. Republican or not, having representatives from 71 nations converge on the Melbourne Cricket Ground is a wonderful event, and it is fitting that the baton has touched down in every one of them.

Also fitting was our celebrations of the baton's arrival here in Canberra. A large crowd gathered in Garema Place to celebrate the tradition, with the Chief Minister accepting a baton and welcoming the crowd. Along with the crowd, attending from the Assembly were Ms Porter and me, with senators Kate Lundy and Gary Humphries, and Bob McMullan and Annette Ellis joining us. On another stage in Garema Place, the ABC's Coodabeen champions made a live broadcast and encouraged Chris, Sharon, Deek and other runners to re-enact the baton handover in slow motion, much to the pleasure of the crowd and listeners.

So I congratulate all of those Canberrans who were involved in the Queen's baton relay, from the runners themselves to their supporters and to the organisers. In seven days, the baton will arrive in Melbourne and then the 18th Commonwealth Games will commence. I wish the participating athletes the best of luck in their events. In the spirit of competition, I wish those Aussies representing us at the Games even better luck.

Mental health

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (6.05): Yesterday in the matter of public importance on public health I touched on some of the issues relating to our failures in mental health. One of those issues is the inappropriate and unnecessary involvement of emergency services authorities of various sorts in dealing with mental health. This is not to be critical of people in emergency services; it is just that people in emergency services are not appropriately trained to deal with people with mental health problems. Recently the Australian Federal Police Association said:

Police are increasingly frustrated by the definition of mentally ill and mentally disordered persons. The problem for police is that they come into contact with many people who appear to be suffering from a form of mental illness, but who are deemed by mental health professionals not to fit the legislated criteria of a mental health disorder or illness. Frequently the illness is deemed to be behavioural. Because of this, although these people are assessed, they are not scheduled, no matter how obvious it is that they are not well.

One of the issues raised by the Not for service report about the ACT is that there was too little attention paid to early intervention issues and too much emphasis on the role of emergency services personnel in the area of mental health patients. We can do better than we currently do. We could possibly take a leaf out of what South Australia does. Adelaide is the home of Australia's first, but by no means the world's first, fully fledged Mental Health Court.


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