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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 12 April 2018) . . Page.. 1394 ..


In terms of practical steps to be taken moving forward, I expect the office to make early connections and establish early relationships with the culturally and linguistically diverse community in the ACT and to develop an understanding of their experience of services. I would also expect the office to develop an understanding of cultural concepts of mental health and how this can influence early help-seeking behaviour.

Having made the point about help-seeking behaviour, I fully accept that for this to occur all sections of the community need two things: firstly, access to current and understandable information about how to keep yourself as well as possible, what services exist, where they are and how to access them; and, secondly, once someone has made what can be a significant step in putting their hand up and asking for help, they need to be met by a service system that welcomes them, understands them and knows how to help them.

I expect the office to play an important role in ensuring that all people, irrespective of background, receive a friendly, empathetic response when they seek help. We are working towards a situation where every person can experience a system that makes sense and that they can navigate, and where the ability to navigate the system does not depend on where they or their family are from.

It is important to note that the office would not be starting from zero in this respect. I am aware that ACT Health works hard to ensure that all staff have access to cultural competency training, that existing cultural knowledge is shared and that clinical services have access to translators. However, as I have mentioned before, where I see the office having a major role is in bringing all of this together into a coordinated response, from the community to hospital-based services, and all of the steps in between.

I particularly reflect on the observation that Mrs Kikkert made about the international recruitment process that is going on at the moment. It is fair to observe that that obviously results in people from a diverse range of backgrounds—perhaps a more diverse range of backgrounds than is currently the case—moving to the ACT to take up a role. There is, of course, always a dilemma in this regard, in encouraging people to come from countries overseas which may be short of medical professionals, but that is obviously a choice for individuals to make. Through that process it is perhaps more rapidly increasing that cultural understanding in our agency than might otherwise have been the case.

I am confident that the establishment of the office for mental health will contribute to and enhance the provision of timely, accessible and culturally responsive mental health services to culturally and linguistically diverse communities in the ACT. I look forward to providing the Assembly with further updates on the progress of the office, including on the issues that have been raised today.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (3.49): I want to thank Mrs Kikkert for bringing forward this matter for discussion today. The multicultural dimension of the office for mental health is an important one. I particularly want to thank her because she does open up


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