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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (2 July) . . Page.. 2186 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

I was very concerned to hear that because I believe we saw those problems identified in the last Assembly through the committees which I chaired. The Social Policy Committee's reports on children at risk, mental health services in the ACT, violence in schools, the disabilities inquiry and the closure of the School without Walls all raised the issue of mental health in young people. I also pointed out that it must be of interest to the Minister because it is obviously related to the drug issue which he is so interested in, as am I. We understand, because we are interested in this, that dual diagnosis is a major issue. I acknowledge that the Minister has said that dual diagnosis services will be made available. From memory, I believe there was to be Commonwealth funding, but the Minister can correct me on that if it is not right that there was going to be work done in this area.

However, I am really very concerned because I hear in my office from people who are very unhappy about the availability of mental health services for young teenagers. Often, that is when the onset of mental illness can occur, and when it is really critical to get in early because the preventative work is definitely useful.

I remember that when we did the mental health services inquiry in the last Assembly we visited EPPIC, the Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre in Melbourne, where there was a group specialising in working with young people at an early stage of psychosis. It was very interesting to see how effective that was. Obviously, if we know that this is effective and important in terms of reducing long-term mental illness which can become a very serious disability, we must see it as a useful thing to do, not just because of the human suffering involved but also because of the economic cost of not doing it. If you allow the illness to become entrenched, the cost of treatment is obviously greater than if you can get in early. So I want it on the record that I am concerned that it was not acknowledged in this budget. I seriously hope that I do see it acknowledged by Mr Moore very soon and that we do not have to wait.

Debate interrupted.


MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! It being 5.00 pm, I propose the question:

That the Assembly do now adjourn.

Mr Moore: I require the question to be put forthwith without debate.

Question resolved in the negative.





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