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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 7 October 2021) . . Page.. 2907 ..


I welcome the significant investment that this government is making directly into our public health system announced in this budget. Including a few key ACT Greens policies such as improving emergency department response with a $22.9 million investment over four years to expand the emergency medical unit at Canberra Hospital to 18 treatment spaces; creating an acute medical unit to speed up the process of admitting patients from the ED; the appointment of a medical navigator to tailor care for ED patients; and continued planning for a north-side hospital.

Along with the huge injection of funding into infrastructure, policy development and new jobs for the public healthcare system, we have seen the most significant investment in public housing in the history of self-government. Housing is a human right and it is absolutely integral to the health of people on low incomes in this city. These are all commitments that the ACT Greens made to the electorate last year, and I am thrilled to see them supported in this budget.

The ACT Greens consider health and wellbeing as a whole-of-life experience. Our policies consider health and wellbeing within the context of our society. We focus our efforts on prevention and keeping people out of hospital and in the community as much as possible.

We understand the direct impact that climate change will have on the health of people in our communities. Climate change poses a substantial and mounting threat to public health in this country and in the ACT. It impacts our health in a variety of ways, such as exposing people to increased temperatures, heatwaves, smoke from bushfires, and increasing the spread of disease. It is important that the ACT has a strategic, health-based response to climate change, as well as a plan for the health sector to reduce its own contribution to climate change and reach zero emissions.

We inside the government and on the crossbench are doing all we can to ensure that the health of the environment is seen as directly related to the health of Canberrans. We know that wealth and income inequality are health issues too, which is why we are the strongest advocates for public health services. At a national level the Australian Greens are campaigning for the inclusion of dental care and mental health care into Medicare. Your brain and your teeth are part of your body; they are absolutely fundamental to your wellbeing and therefore they must be included in our public systems.

We know that mental health and dental concerns map directly onto poverty and disadvantage. Untreated dental disease can have a huge impact on your quality of life. If you have ever woken up with a toothache, Mr Assistant Speaker, it is easy to understand that being unable to access proper treatment due to its cost would make life a misery. Untreated dental disease can have very serious consequences, such as leading to low birth weight and premature babies, increased risk of heart disease and life-threatening infections. Poor dental health can also lead to social isolation, poor diet and depression.

The ACT Greens were the original champions of a dedicated Minister for Mental Health, the first mental health minister in the country. We are thrilled to see that this


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