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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4197 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

Rehabilitation Service was mooted because that is attacking the problem from the other end. We are actually attacking the issue from both ends.

It is absolutely imperative that we give kids an alternative. If they are sprung having a bit of an experimentation with drugs and are just hooked, the current system brings the weight of the penal system upon them. It turns them against a society which would try to give them succour and drives them into that vortex of drug addiction from which, sadly, some of them never emerge. This Youth Rehabilitation Service is a ray of light. Since it has been established it has already saved the one life that Mr Moore referred to. He said that if we do this we will save a life. I reckon he has already done it. I congratulate Jon Stanhope for pushing it and for Mr Moore for establishing it and the Government for funding it. I also congratulate all of those people with the vision to run it.

I am supporting this Bill because it deals with a trial. The supervised injecting place is not to be an ongoing thing for evermore without justification. We are going to try something which reportedly has had some measure of success overseas. Not to try something like this is to give up; it is just to leave them to it. How many people here have walked around City Hill on a Monday morning as I have, twice a month since I have been here? I have not visited the area once without finding a discarded needle. Where are those people? Some of them go home. Some of them do not. Some of them have not got a home to go to. What are we doing for them? If we do not try something, what are we doing for them?

The location of an injecting place is immaterial to me. I would hope that people have enough compassion in their hearts that they would be putting their hand up to locate it. What in fact is happening is that a number of self-interested people are saying, "Not in my backyard". I say shame to that.

I am supporting this Bill for another reason. The Chief Minister said that she is probably the only person here who has dealt with people with drug problems for a significant length of time. How many of us have sat at a bedside in the critical care unit of the hospital while a daughter came out of a drug overdose? I did, and I have to say, Mr Speaker, that it was, without a doubt, the most shattering experience that I have ever had. I went through the usual feelings of guilt, blame and all that sort of stuff, and wondered why and what on earth was going on. She nearly died. Fortunately, she did not, but she will bear the scars for the rest of her life. If it had not been for those wonderful people in critical care she would have died.

Mr Speaker, when she was silly enough to do this - it was silly; it was nothing much deeper than that - if there had been somebody around at the time she would not have spent a week in critical care. She would have spent a few hours in a pseudo casualty ward, but she did not; she spent a week in critical care. I spent a week on a camp bed next to her. To those people who are not clamouring to have such an opportunity next to them, I say, "Just think about it". I do not want any parent to go through what I did. I do not want any parent to go through what the McConnell family went through. If we stand idly by and adopt a self-centred, nimby attitude to this sort of thing, we can all stand up ashamed of ourselves.

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