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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 31 October 2018) . . Page.. 4536 ..


the answers and what we do in ACT Health is the bee’s knees.” As I have acknowledged here, there are places where we are ahead of the game, but there are other places where we are not.

Mr Rattenbury is quite right to say that there is a substantial contribution into community organisations, but the only published thing he said about Mental Health Week did not address community organisations. He is right to remind me, and I did overlook it, that he came into the chamber, I think during the adjournment debate last week, and spoke about Mental Health Month and acknowledged the community organisations at that point. But that was the first time that I had been aware of Mr Rattenbury saying anything about community organisations in the entirety of Mental Health Month.

It is one of the things that becomes formulaic with the government. Today Mr Rattenbury again used the term “not tolerated”, in relation to occupational violence. It is easy to say that we will not tolerate occupational violence, but the clear facts of the matter are that occupational violence has reached extremely high levels in ACT mental health. The fact that the minister is responding to that—he has said that there is a new group coming together who are looking at this issue, and they are going to meet for the first time next week—may give you a long-term solution but it does not give you an immediate response to the subject. That is what the staff need.

At the same time, there are things which have been started which have been sidetracked, re-diverted or whatever. That has led to comments from the ANMF on radio recently. Matthew Daniel was almost speechless with rage at the things that have been started and diverted. Staff have approached me and said that they have asked for help and wanted to facilitate training within adult mental health facilities, both the mental health unit and Dhulwa, in relation to training for staff; that the money was not forthcoming; and that these issues had been sidelined. All the while, people are being beaten up.

I make no bones about the fact that this is a difficult issue. It is easy to say, “We won’t tolerate it,” but the people who are perpetrating these offences, by virtue of where they are, are not in their right mind. We cannot just negotiate with them in the same way we would in other circumstances. It is inherently dangerous. The people who are perpetrating these assaults need assistance probably more than anybody else in the system. We cannot turn our backs on them.

It is a very difficult issue. No-one disputes that. But I do not think that we have seen the openness that we would expect from a Greens minister on this issue. It was very unfortunate that in Mental Health Month, when this issue came up, the minister was not there to address the issues. Staff were sent out to address the issues and talk about these issues with the media, rather than the minister himself doing so. There may have been a good reason. He may have been out of town or whatever. But I could make myself available, and I thought it was unfortunate that the minister was not there to front the media and address these issues when they arose recently.

I welcome the amendment. I think that overall this motion will have a good outcome. I look forward to ongoing reporting on the implementation of the mental health


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