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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 11 Hansard (16 November) . . Page.. 3627..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

With the assistance of urban services, who provided the materials, they have also put in a box drain. One of the volunteers is a licensed plumber. He has helped to install the box drain so they have better drainage.

They do a lot of work. They assist with claims to the Department of Veterans' Affairs; they make representations to the Veterans' Review Board; they make representations to the AAT; they have a garden service for frail, aged veterans or their widows; they do hospital work and hospice visitation; they have a walk for health program; they have a golfing group; they have a food van that is used for fundraising; they have a male choir; they have a cooking group; they have a computer training centre; and they have a woodwork shop and a metal workshop. I think this is a tremendous example of a group who are looking after their own in the finest of Australian traditions.

There are two submissions. One is going to the federal government, which I will be happy to support. The second, as I have said, is a submission to the ACT government, simply to gain seed funding for a pilot study on how best to improve the mental health of the members. I think we all appreciate in this place that veterans' mental health is a big issue, particularly for those who live in social isolation. A lot of veterans do not seek help, as is outlined here in the letter. It says:

The reasons for not seeking help are complex but certainly include:

  • the stigma that surrounds mental disabilities;
  • the 'big bronze Anzac' syndrome i.e. I must be weak if this has happened to me;
  • survivor guilt; and
  • a tendency to self medicate with alcohol and recreational drugs.

I do not like the words "recreational drugs"but I have just quoted from here. It is something that has obviously gone to the minister responsible for the Land Development Agency. I hope the minister and others in this place will note my support for their application, because they are a worthy group.

Men's accommodation and support service program

Canberra Men's Centre

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (4.49): Yesterday I had the opportunity to join with Minister Katy Gallagher as she launched the men's accommodation and support service program. The object of this program is to assist men to establish a level of stability in their lives. The key outcomes include securing and maintaining long-term accommodation; improving basic living skills; addressing complex health and substance abuse; and re-engaging with their families and the community.

The men's accommodation and support service program commenced in June 2004. It provides supported accommodation for up to 20 men who are experiencing homelessness. Included in this number are five places for men who are exiting custody or who are in contact with the criminal justice system.

MASS also provides support services to men who are severely institutionalised after spending many years in jail. Since its inception the MASS program has accepted,

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