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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2410 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

and the police in understanding the behaviours of the mentally ill and how to deal with them in crisis. Yet it is the ACT, according to the Grants Commission, that is incredibly underfunded in this area. Police need to see these people in the context of their families so that they become familiar with them and their behaviours. After all, statistically, one in every four members of our community will encounter some form of mental health problem, either temporarily or permanently.

Is it not about time that we seriously ensured that we have the appropriate services for so many members of our community? Let us get on with the job and provide a service that will attract the best of our psychiatrists and the best of bureaucrats, a service that does not argue about what it cannot do but becomes a leading light in the field of sound mental health practice when it comes to the treatment of our mentally ill and focuses on what it can do. Mr Speaker, I decided to use that example tonight, when considering this division relating to Health and Community Care, to emphasise the inadequacy of funding of mental health. It is a shame, Mr Speaker, that such a tragedy has occurred. Rather than that tragedy be a total waste, it is appropriate for us to use the opportunity to ensure that we get on with the job.

MR BERRY (7.32): Mr Speaker, I just heard Mr Michael Moore give the Labor Government a bit of a serve about its performance in the area of mental health.

Mr Moore: Both governments.

MR BERRY: Well, that is fine. It is this Government's budget. If they are not able to maintain and develop from the base that we put in place you ought to confine your criticism to them. I think more was achieved under Labor than had been achieved in many years prior to that. I recall the plea for the setting up of the crisis teams in earlier years of self-government. I personally made some inspections of the service which was provided in one of the areas in Sydney and, as a result, we moved down the path of providing mental health service crisis teams.

Mr Connolly: And it never once collapsed under our regime - 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

MR BERRY: Mr Connolly reminds me that it never once collapsed under a Labor government. I think that for you to criticise Labor on this issue is to deny history. I think you would be better to confine yourself to attacks on the Government's budget and the way that it has been able to provide services in the lead-up to what has been a tragic event, and one which I am sure will get much more commentary. There have been a whole range of advances which my colleague Mr Connolly will talk about later in relation to the law in the Territory which the Labor Government put a lot of energy into.

We adopted a different approach to our budgets. We got the focus right. It was a socially just focus. It was about the provision of services to the community. To use glib descriptions of the funding levels of the ACT Mental Health Service, I think, is quite unfair. The ACT does better than most, if not all, other places in Australia,

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