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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 April 2021) . . Page.. 832 ..

Minister for Mental Health) (11.47): I rise today to speak about mental health initiatives in the budget. We know that the mental of people nationally and in the ACT has been affected by both the 2019-20 bushfire crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. The impacts of these crises are likely to be long lasting and more severe if services are not available to support people when they need it. As a result, continued investment in mental health supports, particularly early intervention and prevention, is important to promote resilience and positive mental wellbeing in the face of these impacts.

This was a crucial reason why the ACT government took the step of announcing a $4.5 million COVID-19 mental health support package in 2020 which included funding to expand community-based mental health services and a range of new projects to support the Canberra community in a time of need. However, despite the ACT government successes so far in responding to the pandemic and managing the impacts on community, we cannot rest or believe our job is complete just yet.

As such, I am very happy to see that the ACT government has committed more than $19 million over four years for mental health services in the budget. These investments include providing $3.156 million for the continuation of the Adolescent Mobile Outreach Service, AMOS. AMOS is a community-based mental health outreach service that provides services seven days a week for young people aged 12 to 18 years with moderate to severe mental illness who experience barriers to accessing mainstream services or require intensive outreach support.

The budget provided $14.129 million for the expansion of the Police, Ambulance and Clinical Early Response service, PACER. This service brings together a team of experts to better respond to Canberrans in mental health crisis. Police, paramedics and mental health clinicians provide in-community assessment and treatment of people, significantly reducing demand on the emergency department. This funding enables PACER to expand its operations to seven days per week.

Lastly, the budget provides $2.39 million for expanding mental health supports and services. This includes extending the delivery of the COVID-19 mental health support package until 30 June 2021 and delivering ongoing increased mental health support for young Canberrans with highly complex needs who are at risk of mental illness, criminalised behaviour and substance misuse.

Each of these ACT budget investments is important to address some of the immediate mental health needs in our community. There is a particular focus on expanding community outreach for mental health services and on ensuring significant targeted investment in youth mental health supports as a crucial element of effective early intervention and prevention.

Increased funding for youth mental health services forms an early part of the ACT government’s response to the findings and recommendations from the inquiry into youth mental health in the ACT presented to the Assembly by the Standing Committee on Education, Employment and Youth Affairs. These investments also continue the government’s commitment to increased investment in what works by way of community-based mental health programs, including education, awareness and

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