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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 59 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

A process has been developed through, particularly, the department of education and the department of health in relation to those organisations that have been labouring without these payments. We do not have a timetable. As I said, an appropriation bill will be introduced today. It is our hope that, with the support of the Assembly, the appropriation bill will be passed this week. We are looking to the support of the Assembly to ensure that this bill is passed this week. We do realise that that does require the support of the Assembly.

In relation to the details of the allocation of payments, the timeframes and the particular nature of the arrangements we have put in place, I will be happy to give Ms Tucker more on that when I have it.

MS TUCKER: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Given that the timeframe is unclear, can the Chief Minister give an assurance to the Assembly that he will ensure that no such organisation, whether it is about community services or the environment, will be put in the situation where it has to reduce services while waiting for this money to come through?

MR STANHOPE: We do not intend to dillydally or to delay the payment of these moneys to organisations. We do, of course, need to engage in a process, but we will strive absolutely to ensure that there will be no reduction in services as a result of organisations waiting for payments. I do not anticipate that. I expect that these payments will be made as soon as the appropriation bill is passed and a process is put in place.

Mental health diagnostic services for children


: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, you were talking earlier about the need for every child to reach its potential. It is my understanding that the mental health section of the Department of Health and Community Care operated a diagnostic service through the Canberra Hospital for children suspected of having some sort of pervasive developmental disorder. That diagnostic service no longer operates, and there is no public diagnostic service in the ACT. It has been reported to me that there are about 70 children in the ACT awaiting diagnosis.

Minister, you may be aware that the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service has, according to parents, closed its waiting list and is turning away people who are seeking a diagnosis. This is a carry-over from the last government. Will you investigate this matter, including by speaking with parent groups, to determine the current state of affairs? If there is a problem, will you undertake to sort it out so that children with a suspected developmental disorder that is hampering their ability to be educated receive a speedy diagnosis?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms Dundas for the question. I will take it on notice. I do not have the details of it, but I will be more than happy to respond to the question by close of business today.

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