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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (22 September) . . Page.. 2034 ..

Mr Stanhope: It did not work too well.

MS CARNELL: The outcome, as I said, is by far the best outcome for the ACT. In this way we get our fair share, but we get it for one project, the one we need, rather than the money being spread over a number of different projects or one underfunded project. Mr Stanhope and those opposite should be saying, "That is really good news. I will make sure I get in touch with Mr Lee and make sure that he makes a similar undertaking in this election period". Then we will have an undertaking from both potential Health Ministers and we can be confident that the project will go ahead.

That would be a constructive approach from this Assembly, and one that I would like to see happen in an area where normally we all agree. This Assembly has been proactive in the areas of drug treatment and drug law reform. We have had our ups and our downs. We have had times when Mr Berry was unwilling to support the heroin trial, but overall I believe the approach that we have been taking has been innovative and very appropriate for the people of Canberra.

Let us make sure that in this case we again take an innovative approach, one that delivers the best outcome for the people of Canberra. I believe that we have from our side of the political fence. I would like to see those opposite join us in this very important project and get an undertaking from Mr Lee as the potential Labor Party Health Minister. I think this has been a very useful matter of public importance. If the outcome is that both the shadow Health Minister and the Health Minister give the undertakings we have been talking about, it must be a positive outcome for Canberra.

MS TUCKER (4.46): I am interested in a couple of comments from the Chief Minister, particularly her stressing of the big hole or the major issue that she feels needs to have funding injected into it, which is the residential facility. I would like to remind members of the reports presented in the last Assembly which made recommendations related to the issue of drugs, and particularly young people. They were the reports on services for children at risk in the ACT, mental health services and violence in schools. What came out of the inquiries into all three matters was concern about the lack of coordination between agencies in the ACT, the unmet need in the ACT and the lack of any real understanding of what that unmet need was. I have heard other members make comments about how all of us in this Assembly want to address the drug problem in a constructive and positive way. I would just like to get on the record again that I do not believe that the Government has responded in a meaningful way to a lot of the recommendations in those reports.

I am particularly concerned about the link between drug and substance abuse and mental health issues. In the Education Committee in this Assembly, I have asked for input from public servants in the Education Department about whether or not they believe students who have a mental health problem are adequately catered for by other agencies. The response I have got has been: "We do not know. It is not our job to know that". It does not appear to be anybody's job to know that, but I am hearing from the community that if a young person has a mental health problem, which so often can lead to substance abuse or drug addiction, they are not able to access assistance quickly,

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