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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 25 September 2019) . . Page.. 3834 ..


Amendment negatived.

Clause 5, as amended, agreed to.

Debate (on motion by Ms Cheyne) adjourned to a later hour.

Mental health—services for the deaf and deafblind

MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (11.42): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) notes that:

(a) in the past (up to about 12 months ago), a contracted psychologist visited the ACT to work with deaf and deafblind ACT residents;

(b) members of the deaf and deafblind community attended this clinic primarily because the psychologist is fluent in Auslan and understands deaf and deafblind people and their mental health issues;

(c) the doctor had a significant client base here in Canberra and was greatly appreciated by all;

(d) due to some disagreement with ACT Health, the doctor no longer sees deaf and deafblind patients in Canberra and many of her patients cannot travel to Wollongong to attend her practice there;

(e) for over 12 months now the deaf and deafblind community have not had access to face-to-face, one-on-one mental health services;

(f) the lack of Auslan interpreters in the ACT, especially available at short notice for a crisis mental health incident, exacerbates the problem; and

(g) the general mental health of our deaf and deafblind community arguably in the ACT is at the moment at an all-time low and requires urgent investment; and

(2) calls on the ACT Government to:

(a) immediately provide appropriate mental health services for deaf and deafblind ACT residents, preferably through re-instating the previous contracted psychologist with Auslan skills;

(b) examine how deaf and deafblind people in the ACT are provided with health and mental health services, and how their needs can and will be better addressed in the future; and

(c) investigate other ways to support our deaf and deafblind community in the ACT with their mental health and wellbeing.

I thank my Assembly colleagues for their indulgence in bringing this on while we have our Auslan interpreter with us. My motion concerns the mental health needs of Canberrans who are deaf, hard of hearing or deafblind and the fact that this government is treating their communication needs with contempt. For the sake of brevity during this speech, I am going to refer to deaf people, but I am referring all the way through to people who are deaf, hard of hearing or deafblind.


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