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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 February 2018) . . Page.. 211 ..


MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Minister for Justice, Consumer Affairs and Road Safety, Minister for Corrections and Minister for Mental Health) (5.53): I welcome the opportunity to address some of the mischaracterisation that has been put forward in this debate this afternoon and to discuss the very important issues of mental health in this city because the government is committed to addressing this area. It has probably been an interesting lesson this afternoon. I have been frank about some of the challenges that we face, and they have now become points of political attack. I guess it raises the challenging question of how one speaks about things in the reality without turning it into a point of political opportunity for the opposition.

I do not accept Mrs Dunne’s characterisation of the ACT mental health services or the process the government has undertaken to establish the office for mental health. I move the amendment circulated in my name:

Omit all words after paragraph (1), substitute:

“(a) the Labor/Greens Parliamentary Agreement for the 9th Legislative Assembly provides for the establishment of an Office for Mental Health;

(b) that work is well underway to establish the Office by July 2018, and has included significant community consultation and engagement over recent months to inform the proposed model;

(c) the national shortage of mental health professionals, particularly in the field of child and adolescent mental health; and

(d) the difficulties ACT residents can sometimes experience when navigating the current system;

(2) further notes the Government’s ongoing commitment, through an additional $23.8 million in the 2017-18 ACT Budget, to improve access to mental health services in advance of the opening of the Office for Mental Health. The Government commitment includes:

(a) $5.3 million to fund a range of targeted mental health programs and services in the community, including headspace and the Detention Exit Community Outreach Program;

(b) $13.8 million to deliver new rehabilitation beds at the Dhulwa Mental Health Unit;

(c) $1.8 million to reduce incidences of suicide in the community by funding the Black Dog Institute’s Lifespan Suicide Prevention Program;

(d) $100 000 to Menslink to fund additional counsellors and expand free community counselling services to boys aged 10-12;

(e) expanding the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Consultation and Liaison Service at the Canberra Hospital to provide services 7 days per week;

(f) expanding the Perinatal Mental Health Consultation Service to provide greater access to specialist psychiatric services for new Canberra mothers; and


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