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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (9 March) . . Page.. 416 ..


Canberra Injectors Network

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister in her capacity as Acting Minister for Health. Articles in the Canberra Times of 25 February and 8 March drew attention to concerns expressed about a grant to the Canberra Injectors Network. Can the Chief Minister tell the Assembly what advice the Government has received about the grant and the recipients of it? Is there any cause for concern, as suggested in the media? Does the Government propose to take any action in relation to the issue?

MS CARNELL: I appreciate what is, I think, a very valid and a very good question. The report in the media, on my advice, is seriously inaccurate, so it is great to have an opportunity to set the record right. Members would be aware that for a number of years, in fact I think since before self-government, a peer group support service has been provided to injecting drug users in the ACT. It is my advice that the contract for that particular service was put out last year, but I am not exactly sure of the timeframes on that. It was probably last year, Mr Speaker. That service went out for tender, as any other service would go out to tender, and normal procedures were put in place. As members would be aware, the Canberra Injectors Network has been awarded preferred provider status following the tender process for the delivery of a set of peer-based education and support services to injecting drug users in the ACT.

The tender was conducted due to the demise of the previous service provided by the ACTIV League in 1997. Preferred provider status was awarded to enable further negotiations on a range of matters identified by the tender panel. These have now been resolved, and Minister Moore has advised that a contract is under development.

The Canberra Injectors Network will provide information and education services for approximately 40 hours per week using paid and volunteer workers, a needle exchange service in conjunction with the information and education service, and an outreach service to provide health information and education. Canberra Injectors Network intends to work collaboratively with other key organisations in the ACT to address perceived gaps in service delivery. The department is currently developing an agreement with Canberra Injectors Network for the purchase of these services.

In the meantime, ADD Inc., the current provider, has been contracted to continue the service for two months to enable a smooth transition to the new service. ADD Inc. management have been advised of the tender decision and acknowledge that while it would represent the interests of injecting drug users it could not represent drug users themselves. It said that it understood the panel's decision. This important distinction led the tender panel to award the contract to the Canberra Injectors Network as there was a clear tender requirement that the successful agency be able to represent drug users and have significant or substantial peer input into the management of the organisation.

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