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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 11 February 2021) . . Page.. 468 ..

I am pleased that patients responded to by PACER have been able to receive alternative appropriate care in the community, rather than being taken to hospital. Diverting someone experiencing a mental health crisis way from the emergency departments and police custody means they can start recovering sooner from a better starting point. This delivers on our commitment to provide better outcomes for Canberrans experiencing mental health challenges by reducing avoidable hospital presentations and contact with the justice system while also reducing demand on our hardworking emergency responders.

MS ORR: Minister, how is the government supporting staff across emergency services?

MR GENTLEMAN: I think Ms Orr for her interest in our staff as well. The government is committed to supporting staff across our emergency services so that they can keep our community safe. We have been working hard to ensure that our emergency service responders are able to deliver well-resourced, community-focused services that enhance public safety and respond to the changing needs of our growing city. We have made and will continue to make significant staffing investments, provide new vehicles and equipment, fund new and upgraded facilities and ensure that our staff receive the training and opportunities they need to best serve our community.

We will also continue to invest in innovative and creative solutions such as PACER that help to reduce demand on the emergency responders and enable them to achieve better outcomes. These investments have enabled our first responders to consistently achieve the fastest response times in the country, ensuring that Canberrans receive swift help in emergencies. Thank you to our hardworking staff across our emergency services for their ongoing commitment and dedication to our community.


MRS KIKKERT: My question is to the Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services. Minister, it has been reported that over the past year the territory had the second highest rate of repeat homelessness in Australia. In 2017 there were 34 people on the priority waiting list and now there are 191, including those in the tent city behind CMAG, which many of us walk past every day. Minister, why are more Canberrans failing to receive the homelessness services they desperately need?

MS VASSAROTTI: I thank Mrs Kikkert for the question. As reported in the RoGS report, which was referred to by Mrs Kikkert, we saw an increase in homelessness in the ACT last year, which was really disappointing. We have seen an increase in funding of homelessness services over the last three years, as well. We have seen an increase in the number of people accessing our homelessness services, but there has been an increase in the complexity of their needs as well. We have seen an increase in the numbers of people, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March. We are looking at how we respond to these issues. We have seen a number of new services introduced through the COVID-19 period. We have announced additional funding for these services through the budget that has just been announced.

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