Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 2784 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
The committee has decided to await the coroner's report on the death of Warren I'Anson before consulting with the community. Mr Speaker, as chair of the Social Policy Committee, I have been approached by a number of people over the last few months, and in particular in the last three weeks, about the need for an inquiry into mental health services. This is obviously a very important issue, and I hope a part of the committee's work can be to highlight the need for ongoing community education about mental illness.
The terms of reference for the committee are very broad, which will enable a number of issues to be addressed, as it is clear that any particular issue cannot be addressed in isolation from a number of other issues. Obviously, we will be looking quite closely at service levels and coordination of services as well as other areas of government which impact on people in the ACT with a mental illness. The inquiry may draw in issues such as the adequacy of the ACT mental health plan, the level of resourcing for mental health, particularly community-based projects, and issues surrounding recruitment of staff.
The Social Policy Committee of the last Assembly recommended in its report on the inquiry into the Mental Welfare and Crimes (Amendment) Exposure Draft Bills that the government of the day must report to the Standing Committee on Social Policy every six months on the provision of services, including legal services, for people with a mental dysfunction. The committee is very disappointed that the first report is six months late, which has delayed the committee's work in this area. On Tuesday Mrs Carnell expressed her regret about the lateness of the report but assured the Assembly that it would finally be ready next Friday.
The committee looks forward to working cooperatively and constructively with all members of the Assembly on this very important issue. We commend the Government's initiative, which Mrs Carnell announced last week, to set up a friendship house, which will be a community-based service providing, on a self-referral basis, respite accommodation and support for people experiencing mental health problems.
Debate resumed from 19 October 1995, on motion by Mrs Carnell:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
MS FOLLETT (Leader of the Opposition) (11.51): This legislation achieves an objective of Liberal Party governments throughout Australia, in fact their ideological colleagues throughout the world, and that is privatisation. The contracting out or contracting in within the public service is the privatisation of labour, just as surely as the sale of buildings, nursing homes, health centres and the car fleet is the privatisation of public assets. The Australian Labor Party disagrees with the philosophy underlying this legislation. The role of public service managers is not just to seek the maximum personal return and to focus on the bottom line. It is to have a set of values that include service to the public. We do not believe that removing the career aspects of the public service will improve the standard of service the public receives. We believe that public servants,