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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 13 May 2021) . . Page.. 1503 ..

food and housing. By partnering with these organisations, the ACT government is supporting, and will continue to support, Canberrans impacted by the situation in India and ensure that everyone is able to access the support services that they need.

It is the government’s role to proactively provide information and support to the ACT community throughout the pandemic. This includes tailored assistance measures for multicultural and culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Our Indian and South Asian communities are a vital part of this. We have done this through ensuring that essential health and wellbeing communications are translated into 14 different languages, and we are partnering with community organisations to ensure that communities get the information they need.

I was pleased to hear Minister Davidson outline the many supports available. I stress again that Access Mental Health is available for the ACT community on 1800 629 354. This is a 24/7 line providing mental health services, with access to assessment and treatment services, and advice and information on a range of mental health issues. And Access Canberra provides a “no wrong door” entry point to navigating ACT government services at its service centres or by calling 13 22 81.

I would like to lend my strong support to Ms Orr’s motion to express the ACT government’s view—I hope the ACT parliament’s view—to the commonwealth government about its insensitive and unprecedentedly punitive approach to the temporary flight ban. I genuinely do not believe that this is an attempt to divide at all. In fact, it has echoed public commentary from our local community. Mrs Jones said that I found it funny. I do not find it funny at all; it was her approach that I found to be quite remarkable. Australian citizens must have the fundamental right to come home, especially in a time of crisis. The only question on the federal government’s mind at times like this should not be if, or when, but how we get them home safely as soon as possible.

The decision of the National Security Committee of cabinet to lift the pause on flights from India from 15 May is a welcome development. We want to see as many Australians as possible return home.

Through national cabinet, the ACT government supported instituting additional pre-departure measures for travellers from India. These measures will enable the resumption of government-facilitated flights and aim to minimise the risks of COVID-19 to the community. They include additional pre-departure testing and the continuation of government support programs for Australians currently in India. These measures will help to ensure the safety of Australians waiting to come home, enable the return of our residents and citizens to resume, and help protect our community.

As publicly called for by the Chief Minister, investment in federal quarantine facilities by the commonwealth is sorely needed to lift the country’s repatriation and quarantine capacity—and, indeed, safety. Additional dedicated facilities would lift quarantine capacity and increase Australia’s ability to repatriate our friends and loved ones in a safe way.

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