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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 12 April 2018) . . Page.. 1396 ..


Mr Rattenbury is placing a lot of store in his office for mental health. His reputation and standing as the Minister for Mental Health will rise and fall on it and the government’s wisdom in creating a stand-alone Minister for Mental Health will rise and fall on the achievements of this minister. But if it is not the saviour he said it will be, our mental health services will descend even further into the mire. It will become even more difficult for Australian-born citizens to access and navigate, let alone refugees, new migrants and even new Australian citizens.

Mrs Kikkert is right. The office for mental health, in whatever form it takes ultimately and in whichever directorate or directorates or other government agency or agencies it finally sits, needs to be ready to provide services that are tailor made for every individual who walks through its doors. Based on what we have seen to date, I am not confident but I live in hope, for those in our community most in need of help, that Mr Rattenbury will deliver on this commitment.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Community Services and Social Inclusion, Minister for Disability, Children and Youth, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations) (3.54): I thank Mrs Kikkert for bringing forward this matter of public importance today. I also note her ongoing interest in raising here in the Assembly and, of course, in the wider community the issues of accessible and appropriate services for culturally and linguistically diverse Canberrans.

I also note my colleague Minister Rattenbury has already discussed the particular importance of addressing mental health issues in relation to those who have come from a culturally or linguistically diverse background and the broad shape of his vision for the office for mental health. I note Mrs Dunne claimed that Mr Rattenbury’s attitude has been, “Don’t worry about it.” That is not what I heard and it is not what I see in the way Mr Rattenbury does his job.

The health and wellbeing of our community as a whole and individuals within it rely on effective and safe responses to our most vulnerable community members. The ACT government is well aware that treatment, support and access to services for Canberrans with mental health conditions is critically important to facilitate better life outcomes for those members of our community and their families, friends and wider circle.

International and local evidence has shown that people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and people with low English proficiency may have poorer health outcomes in English-speaking countries and are at greater risk of adverse incidents arising from their health care. We also recognise that some of the most vulnerable members of our community such as refugees and asylum seekers are at greater risk of developing mental health conditions.

Prolonged detention and social and cultural stigma are associated with poorer mental health outcomes in asylum seekers, including among children. The ACT government is committed to reducing the barriers and improving access to mental health services which meet the needs of people from multicultural backgrounds. With more than a


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