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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 12 April 2018) . . Page.. 1392 ..

In supporting such initiatives, there should be a robust program of training in and evaluation of cultural competency across all levels of mental health service provision. Where such competency does not already exist, it must be carefully nurtured in the professional workforce, with visionary and understanding leaders who both see the importance of this and are willing and committed to making it happen.

Much has already been made in this chamber of the long delays that have hindered the promised implementation of an ACT office for mental health. These delays are to be regretted, but I would suggest that they also provide the Minister for Mental Health with an opportunity to make sure that important multicultural dimensions are not overlooked in the creation of this office.

In light of the fact that the adult mental health unit at Canberra Hospital is currently experiencing what has been described by the union as a “crippling shortage” of permanent psychiatrists and that, as a consequence, “ACT Health is continuing to undertake a national and international recruitment activity to fill vacant positions”, I specifically recommend to Mr Rattenbury that professionals with demonstrable cultural competence be specifically targeted as part of this recruitment drive, and that cultural sensitivity be embedded in everything this office does.

I look forward to hearing more on this topic from the minister.

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) (3.41): I am pleased to have another opportunity to discuss the important work we are doing to establish an office for mental health in the territory. I would like to thank Mrs Kikkert for raising this matter of public importance. I certainly agree with her that ensuring that the office is culturally sensitive and is able to consider the specific aspects of mental illness that affect our multicultural communities is important. This is one of the many components that we are considering as the planning and design work for the office is progressing.

I know that the mental health and wellbeing of our multicultural community is something that Mrs Kikkert is passionate about, and this is an interest that we share. I was pleased to hear her speak on this topic in an adjournment speech just a few weeks ago. Mrs Kikkert has also recently written to my office on this issue, and I expect to provide her with a response shortly.

The office for mental health will have a focus on developing an ACT mental health system that is well coordinated and where people receive the care and support that they need at the right time and in the right place. An important part of providing that coordinated and integrated care is ensuring that the service system has a detailed understanding of the population that it serves and its needs. We know that in many healthcare systems around the world groups who have limited proficiency in the majority language or are relatively recent arrivals can struggle to get equitable access to healthcare services.

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