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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 2 December 2021) . . Page.. 4112 ..

later, he was discharged without this assessment, and again without any information or support.

We have been trying for months to access residential rehabilitation to deal with the immediate issue of alcohol addiction, knowing this may not deal with the underlying mental health issues that caused the addiction, but desperate for any type of help. As a family, we have had to navigate this system alone and scared without any supports, requiring months of waiting and jumping through numerous hoops.

We have tried to access drug and alcohol support, both while he has been admitted in hospital and from home, but have been frustrated with long wait times and availability or lack of availability. Each time he has been hospitalised, we have been seen by a member of the drug of alcohol team, who we have pleaded with for help only to be told, ‘Keep drinking and try and get into rehab because there is no point going through detox if you do not have a residential bed.’

We have now resorted to facilities interstate to get assistance as the system in the ACT has not been able to help us for years. This means further disruption and financial impacts to our family as he is hours away from home. We are a family with stable jobs. We own our own home. We do not have any history of mental health or addiction issues. But we have the education and the means and the will to access support, but have still found nowhere to help us.

If we had more help and support in the early stages of this process, we may have been able to prevent it, but instead, we have been forced to navigate a system that supposedly exists to help and is not able to. I wish the hospital system had better integrated supports so that they can help people get better instead of putting a bandaid on it until the next hospital admission.

If it only helped one family to avoid going through what we have had to go through, it would be worth it. Mine and my family’s experience with my husband’s issues with mental health and substance use disorders have resulted in years of frustration, helplessness, and isolation.

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker.

MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (4.42): I thank Ms Lee and Mrs Jones for bringing this very important motion before the Assembly today. I rise today to speak in strong support of the integration of services for people with both mental health disorders and drug use disorders. Ten months ago, I presented a petition to this Assembly signed by 699 Canberra residents calling for a thorough inquiry into the territory’s alcohol, tobacco and other drug sector.

When I spoke to that petition, I mentioned a family whose son had been referred to a specialist drug treatment service by the court. At that time, he and his family had already been waiting many months to access that service. I am glad that now the young man has finally been able to access the service he needed and is beginning to thrive again, but his situation deteriorated dramatically throughout the long waiting period, impacting both him and his family.

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