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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (18 February) . . Page.. 293 ..

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (11.18): Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the committee for the work they did on this report. What is important is not so much what is in the report, but that it demonstrates the amount of work that can be done by this Assembly together. While the primary school students from Waramanga are here, it is a very important opportunity for us to say that often what happens in this Assembly is that members work together in order to get a very good outcome. This report on mental health illustrates what happened.

The story is this: When there was some disagreement about the mental health strategic plan, Mr Wood and his committee said, "Why don't we sit around at a round table and sort out what are the differences?". Everybody in this Assembly is really interested in ensuring that we get the possible health services for people with mental illness. Mr Wood was able to chair a meeting like that to resolve differences of opinion. So, we are able to bring down a strategic plan on mental health services that is largely agreed to by all the key players.

We now have a challenge with the mental health legislation, which also has some fundamental differences of opinion. Just last week, I postponed a similar round table meeting on that because a couple of the key players were not there; but we will follow the same process. I think it is an excellent process. With regard to the mental health legislation, I have assured some people who have come into my office that we will then move to a public process of attempting to achieve the same goals. I thank the committee for their input and for what has been achieved through the process which was advocated and delivered by Mr Wood.

MR WOOD (11.20), in reply: Mr Moore has indicated that we all know that there is a great deal of work to be done in promoting the interests of those who suffer some form of mental illness. The path ahead is not always clear. It has been made more difficult by the deinstitutionalisation that occurred some years ago. You may have watched the Four Corners program on schizophrenia the other night. We were presented again with the traumas, the difficulties, that sufferers of that ailment have and the responsibilities that we in the community have to see that we attend to their needs. Those people are, quite properly, part of our community. But, sadly, they are not always a full part, as they should be, because of marginalisation and because they do not always have the support they need following a significant change.

I want to pay particular attention to page 7 of the Minister's strategy. The item that was inserted after our round table points to the fact that outcomes and strategies will be further defined, the timetable will be developed and we will get a clearer definition of where we are going. I think that is very important. The strategy is now in place, and we look forward to its successful implementation.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

MR SPEAKER: Members, it being 45 minutes after the commencement of Assembly business, the debate is interrupted, in accordance with standing order 77.

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