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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 3239 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

Being an inmate of a correctional institution should not preclude a person from access to generally accepted standards of health care.

Mr Speaker, that should be a given. We lock people up as punishment. We do not lock them up for punishment. They are still human beings and they are still members of our community. That should be a given and I am glad to see that line in the report. I congratulate the Government for putting it in there. The only thing is that I would have highlighted it a bit more. If you have a look at the percentages, I think something like 70 or 80 per cent of the people have either had a drug problem or they got one when they went to gaol. Perhaps we ought to be saying that these people should be getting a greater access to drug programs.

What is not in this report, Mr Speaker, is a commitment to having a drug detoxification unit within the gaol walls. We talk about access to drug counselling and information, and access to appropriate rehabilitation and support services, and I am very glad to see that, but I can remember not being satisfied about this issue once before. The statement was made within consecutive days, Mr Speaker. The chief executive of the Department of Justice and Community Safety said to our committee that we could not necessarily afford a detox unit within the prison boundaries, yet the very night, at a community council meeting, the Minister said, "We've just got to have one". I think we have just got to have one. I do not want to enter into a political debate over this. I do not want to end up having this as a table tennis game. What I would like to see is a categorical statement on the part of the Government that it is going to happen. That is all I want, and I know that the people I talk to in the corrections industry want one as well.

Mr Speaker, in general terms I am happy with this report. I think it has many good things in it which commend it. There are a lot of problems with it in the sense that it does not have as much explanation as I would like, and I am sure the rest of the community would like. I think that its passage on services for people in custody only says that people ought to have access. It does not guarantee that they will. Mr Speaker, I would urge the Government, in the strongest possible terms, to come out publicly and guarantee it.

MS TUCKER (11.10): We also welcome this strategy for dealing with issues of drug abuse in our society. It is obviously something that the Greens have had a strong involvement with as well. Our support for a safe injecting place was dependent upon such a response being seated in a broad strategic approach to the issue of drug and substance abuse in our community. Some members have spoken with caution about the introduction of such a facility as a safe injecting place in the ACT. We will obviously have that debate when we debate the legislation, but I would like to say in this context that I think it is absolutely appropriate that it is part of a response from the community to drug issues.

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