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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 2 December 2021) . . Page.. 4108 ..


The ACT government also recognises that the current system of addressing both issues is not complete. It is a challenging issue that is being addressed, and we continue to welcome advice and feedback from our colleagues, clinicians and consumers, and carers, in the community.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (4.25): I rise to speak in support of Ms Davidson’s amendments, which Labor members will be supporting. I thank Mrs Jones and Ms Lee for bringing this very important matter to the Assembly. We place enormous importance on delivering the right care, at the right time, in the right place, for all Canberrans. But we know that does not always occur and we continually strive for better and more integrated services.

I note that this motion continues the discussion that was raised as part of Mr Pettersson’s harm minimisation motion agreed by the previous Legislative Assembly on 20 August 2020, to which I responded on 9 November 2021. Mr Pettersson’s motion included a focus on the importance of better integrating mental health and alcohol and other drug services to ensure that, where appropriate, individuals with co-occurring or comorbid disorders are supported and their engagement is as seamless as possible.

The ACT government is committed to addressing the comorbidity and co-occurrence of mental health issues and alcohol and other drug disorders and, indeed, other factors that can influence people’s engagement with mental health and alcohol and other drug sectors, such as underlying trauma and post-traumatic stress. We recognise that supporting and investing in our mental health and alcohol and other drug sectors is critical. This, of course, was noted by the select committee on Mr Pettersson’s private member’s bill in their report tabled earlier this week.

In this year’s budget there is an additional $11 million being provided to our community-based alcohol and other drug service partners. Much of this is in response to the service needs associated with the Drug and Alcohol Court, which is specifically intended to ensure that we can address alcohol and drug issues as a health issue for those people who are already engaged with the justice system and have been for some time. This complements the significant investments made to support both the acute and community-based mental health sectors.

As I have said, however, we recognise that there is always more to do. Better integration of services is one of my key priorities as Minister for Health. When people use the ACT health system, their contact with services should be as seamless as possible and delivered in a manner and a place that best meets their needs.

The national drug strategy 2016-26 and the ACT government’s drug strategy action plan 2018-21 include people living with co-occurring mental health conditions as a priority. We have worked to deliver for this group and we will continue to do so. The drug strategy action plan includes a commitment, led by Canberra Health Services, to undertake co-design processes to agree on principles for the prevention and treatment


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