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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 2649 ..

Mr Berry: What happens if they do not want to make a unanimous decision?

MR DE DOMENICO: Mr Berry interjects. If there is no unanimous decision, Mr Berry, the Government will accept a majority decision that will be in the best interests of the majority of the people in the ACT. As soon as that is made, Ms Horodny, I will let the Assembly know.

MS HORODNY: I ask a supplementary question. What is the timeline for this process?

MR DE DOMENICO: I cannot give you an exact time and date, but it will be before the end of the year. Ms Horodny, unlike the previous Government, which banned everything in sight, this Government has taken the approach of sitting down together with all the community groups concerned, realising that, no matter what decision this Government made, not 100 per cent of the community would agree with it. However, this Government, unlike the previous one, will make a decision in the best interests of the majority of the people in the ACT. Once that decision is made, we will let the Assembly know.

Mental Health Services

MR HIRD: Mr Speaker, my question is addressed to the Chief Minister in her capacity as Minister for Health and Community Care. I refer to a recent announcement of a new respite facility in the ACT for people with mental health problems. Can the Minister outline just how these new services will operate and the reason behind their establishment?

MRS CARNELL: I thank Mr Hird for the question, because I think the area of mental health remains one of the greatest challenges facing any government in Australia and certainly facing this Assembly. I know that we still have a long way to go before we can truly say that people with mental health problems are properly cared for in our community. It is this approach that has led to recent discussions with mental health support groups about how we can work together to set up a new community-based service in Canberra.

I was pleased to announce yesterday that, in partnership with the community, the Government will establish a friendship house to be named after the late Warren I'Anson. This facility will operate on a self-referral basis and will provide respite accommodation and support for people experiencing mental health problems. A house will be identified by ACT Housing, and day support and overnight accommodation will be provided. The friendship house will be staffed by volunteers and Mental Health Foundation support workers and will have access to mental health services, case managers, the crisis team and services at Woden Valley Hospital. I have asked the Department of Health and Community Care to convene a meeting of interested parties to plan the establishment of the house. It is hoped that the facility will be open early in the new year.

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