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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 2 December 2021) . . Page.. 4104 ..


treatment he was not referred or transitioned to any drug or addiction treatment. She had to care for her son at home because he could not access an appropriate service. Sadly, her son is no longer with us. She has said:

I will spend the rest of my life being a voice so that people who are in power understand what’s going on with these people.

Today this Assembly hears you.

Anyone can be affected by mental health issues; likewise, with drug and alcohol issues, addiction can affect everyone and anyone. There has been—although it is decreasing—a stigma associated with mental illness, for which there should be no stigma; likewise for addiction.

In 2018 the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use found that more than one-third of individuals with an alcohol and other drug use disorder had at least one comorbid mental health disorder, but the rate was even higher among those in alcohol and other drug treatment programs. And there are a large number of people who present to alcohol and other drug treatment facilities who display symptoms of disorders but who did not meet the criteria for a diagnosis of a mental health disorder. The Productivity Commission, in its inquiry report on mental health, found:

Many people with mental illness and comorbid physical health problems or substance use disorders do not receive integrated care, leading to poor outcomes, including premature death.

It recommended:

Mental health services should be required to ensure treatment is provided for both mental illness and substance use disorder for people with both conditions.

Clearly, there is a critical need to ensure that mental health treatment services and drug and alcohol rehabilitation services in the ACT are properly integrated.

Janine has told us of her experience with the mental health and drug rehabilitation systems in the ACT whilst trying to get proper treatment for Brontë. The first word she used to describe this system was “siloed”—services that do not talk with one another. And there are so many fragmented services.

This motion attempts to set out all of the various treatment facilities, inpatient services and community services that make up the ACT mental health system. The fact that the Minister for Mental Health has indicated that she will be amending this motion to omit that list of services because they cannot all be simply listed demonstrates how complex the system really is.

There are lived experiences of Canberrans discharged from one service but not referred to another. In one instance, a patient was released from mandatory mental health treatment with nowhere to go or live, left homeless, and with a six-week wait for a place in drug rehabilitation. People are being discharged from mental health


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