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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 1347 ..

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (12.20): Mr Speaker, there is not going to be time for me to finish my speech. I move:

That the debate be adjourned and the resumption of debate be made an order of the day for a later hour this day and have precedence over all other notices and orders of the day.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Sitting suspended from 12.21 to 2.30 pm


Mental Health Counsellor

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Health and Community Care. In evidence to the Assembly's Estimates Committee on 23 July last the Minister and an officer of his department revealed that the ACT had missed out on Federal funding of in the order of $220,000 for the appointment of a mental health counsellor to work with indigenous people, a direct outcome of the Commonwealth response to the Bringing them home report. The Minister gave a commitment to the estimates hearing to approach the Federal Health Minister, Michael Wooldridge, within the next week - that is, after the date of the meeting - to discuss the issue with him. Can the Minister say what he has done to make the Commonwealth meet its commitment to fund a position in the ACT and to provide the $220,000 directly to the ACT?

MR MOORE: Thank you, Mr Stanhope, for the question. Yes, I have written on that issue and have explained the situation. I reminded Dr Wooldridge that this issue was raised during the meeting of the Ministerial Health Council. I raised the issue with him at that time. It is entirely inappropriate that the ACT should miss out and this situation should be rectified.

MR SPEAKER: Do you have a supplementary question, Mr Stanhope?

MR STANHOPE: Yes, Mr Speaker. I understand that arrangements have also been made for the ACT to get a dedicated mental health counsellor outside the scope of the Bringing them home funding. Can the Minister say when the ACT will get that dedicated indigenous mental health counsellor and whether that position will be attached to the Winnunga Nimmityjah health service?

MR MOORE: When I wrote to Dr Wooldridge I sought to clarify, first of all, whether a counsellor had been allocated to the ACT and what consultation process the Commonwealth had undertaken prior to making these decisions. I was informed that the ACT had not been allocated a mental health counsellor and that indigenous Australians in the ACT were expected to access a counsellor through one of eight or nine positions allocated to New South Wales. I was further informed that consultation with the ACT Government had not occurred. Having had that information - I think that is what

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