Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 31 March 2021) . . Page.. 752 ..
The national commission can come after the royal commission. That is what would be logical here. It is illogical to have an ongoing commission before a royal commission. Consider the royal commission into child sexual abuse. Royal commission first, with wide-ranging, incredible powers, fully scoped, properly funded. What has come from that is long-lasting change, things that will have an ongoing effect like the redress scheme. And that is the right order here.
In closing, I thank Ms Davidson for the opportunity to speak on this today and for bringing this forward. This is a critically important issue. I think that we are united about how critically important it is; we just have a different way of going about it. I think, perhaps with further conversations, we can agree, and I hope that might be the way forward in the future.
MS DAVIDSON (Murrumbidgee—Assistant Minister for Seniors, Veterans, Families and Community Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Justice Health and Minister for Mental Health) (5.13): I acknowledge that there are a diversity of views out there, and that is actually the reality when we have approximately 26,000 veterans and their families in our city with diverse experiences and views. I thank Mr Hanson for pointing out the excellent work done by the Ministerial Advisory Council on Veterans and their Families. They are an incredibly high-performing advisory council, and I appreciate all of the work that they do. The advice they have given me is that there is support for a standing or rolling royal commission and that they would like to see terms of reference for the standing commission being very broad.
As the minister responsible for veterans, I recently wrote to the federal Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, outlining issues relating to mental health service access for the local veteran community. The ACT government is also a member of the veterans wellbeing task force, an intergovernmental forum on veteran mental health and wellbeing issues and responses.
When I spoke to the Liberal Party leader recently about this motion, I also spoke about the urgent and ongoing need for mental health services for our veterans. The ACT government is committed to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of veterans and reducing the incidence of suicide. The ACT government provides a range of clinical and non-clinical mental health, suicide prevention and postvention support services to veterans, including the Way Back service delivered by Woden Community Service. We also have free inpatient care through Hyson Green, the private psychiatry unit operated by Calvary Bruce Hospital, and through various veterans cards.
The access mental health team administered through Canberra Health Services provides a 24/7 phone intake, assessment, information and referral service and each call is triaged and prioritised according to the individual’s needs and specific circumstances. We also provide Step Up, Step Down services across the ACT, both residential and outreach supports.
Given the relatively high population of serving and ex-serving veterans in the ACT, there is a strong need for us to work closely with the commonwealth government to