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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 2192 ..

MR MOORE: The Government welcomes the opportunity to respond to the report of the Standing Committee on Health and Community Care on the Whole of Territory Mental Health Strategic Plan 1998-2001. At my request, the standing committee was asked to examine the plan to ensure that it adequately reflected community views. I believe that it became clear to the committee very early that the plan did reflect community views. Indeed, the community was strongly of the view that the plan should be finalised and released as a final document.

The standing committee held a round table meeting on 14 August 1998 involving all of the major players, including Ms Kerrie Tucker, MLA. The Government commends the standing committee for its decision to hold the round table meeting. At that meeting it was agreed that a number of amendments needed to be made to the strategic plan to strengthen the references to consumer empowerment and to the development of partnerships with key sectors of the community. It was also agreed that the Department of Health and Community Care would consult with the Mental Health Council in relation to the identification of priority areas for the expenditure of new funds.

The revised strategic plan is a very thorough document which provides a framework for reform in the provision of mental health services. The standing committee has suggested that the plan is not a strategic plan. The committee formed this view because it argued that there needed to be a review of the existing services in order to determine service gaps prior to the development of the strategic plan. The Government does not agree with the committee's view. A strategic plan provides a vision of what a government wants to achieve in a particular area, how it will achieve it and when it will achieve it. The Whole of Territory Mental Health Strategic Plan fulfils all of these roles.

It should be noted that, in developing the strategic plan, the Department of Health and Community Care undertook a comprehensive literature review, focusing particularly on those reports which made recommendations regarding gaps in service in the ACT. The report of the inquiry by the Legislative Assembly's Standing Committee on Social Policy into the adequacy of mental health services in the ACT, which was chaired by Ms Tucker, was particularly important to the process. A number of recent reports, such as the report on the need for a secure care facility, have identified additional gaps. The identification of service delivery gaps is a process which is, and should continue to be, undertaken continuously by the ACT Government.

The department, together with stakeholders, will develop a set of performance indicators for the plan. These are expected to be ready by December 1998. The indicators will be used to assess the plan annually, followed by a review of the objectives, strategies and actions. At the end of the 2000-01 financial year, the plan will be formally evaluated.

The Government thanks all those who participated in the development of this plan for their time and effort. I am confident that the result is a plan which will help government, service providers, consumers, carers and the broader community to work toward the improvement of mental health and community care services in the ACT and to maximise community and individual health and emotional and social wellbeing.

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