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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 3240 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

The issue of blood-borne disease is one that should be of concern to everybody in the community, even those people in the community who have a rather uncharitable approach to drug issues and take the stance that if people choose to take drugs it is their own problem, and if they get sick it is their own problem. That is a fairly astounding approach in terms of its lack of compassion and humanity but, unfortunately, it is an approach that exists in our community, although I believe in only a small group of people. It is actually an incredibly ill-informed approach anyway because it does not understand the implications to general public health from blood-borne disease. It certainly goes much wider than a particular group of people who are injecting drugs. It also is an approach aimed at trying to address some of the overdose deaths which occur and which are such a tragedy, as I am sure everyone agrees.

Turning now to this strategy, I do wait, obviously, to see how it will be implemented and how it will be resourced. I have some concerns about the education aspect of the strategy, or more particularly about the draft drug education strategy, and I will talk about that a little bit later. I am also concerned because I have received in my office a number of complaints about what is actually happening in the alcohol and drug program and the so-called restructural reform there. I raised this matter in question time last week and I will be raising it again because I have received complaints, as other members have, and I am not quite sure what is going on there.

I am very pleased to see the introduction of the youth rehabilitation facility which community treatment groups who know the problems have called for for a number of years now in numerous submissions to government and in submissions to committee inquiries that I held in the last Assembly, particularly as chair of the Social Policy Committee. So I am delighted to see that this is going to be a feature of our response in the ACT. I am also glad to see that it seems to have been well received in our local community. There has been at least one public meeting and some Chronicle articles about this facility. There does not appear to be a backlash, which is really good because I think it shows that the majority of members of the ACT community do want to help our children who are struggling with these substance abuse issues and do want to see treatment options made available in their own suburb. It does not appear to be something that has got a particularly bad reaction at all. That is a real plus and is something that I am quite proud of.

I am also interested to see in this strategy - I think many people in the community are interested to see this as well - the work of the healthy cities program and strategies for building public health in a broad holistic sense, as stated in the rationale for activities. I am sorry, I do not have the page number, but it is one of the activities mentioned in the strategy. I am encouraged to have seen actions along these lines.

The Canberra Times of 4 September carried a notice about a healthy city citizens jury to enable informed community input to a strategic plan for Canberra as a healthy city. I congratulate Michael Moore for this initiative. It sounds as though it will develop some way towards a social plan which the Greens have been asking for for a long time, and also for the use of an innovative tool for deliberative democracy through the use of the citizens jury. So I am really pleased to see that and will watch with great interest how that progresses.

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