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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (11 April) . . Page.. 982 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

health were raised by a number of groups, particularly in regard to young people. I note the proposal being put forward by Ms Dundas for debate this afternoon. It will be interesting to explore some of those issues then. The ability to pay bills, housing expenses and transport expenses and how those areas interact with one's personal health emerged quite clearly as a theme.

Another issue, particularly from the mental health groups, was about the need for early intervention in the process for those people who come to the attention of authorities, whether it be in health or in the judicial system, and how we deal with those people in our community who have a mental health problem. The Junction raised issues about how we deal with young people and the Mental Health Advisory Council put together a particularly good submission that canvassed a number of issues, particularly dual diagnosis and how the problems of those people who may have a mental condition as well as a drug or alcohol problem are addressed. Over the last couple of days you will have heard me talking about the need to find a way of dealing in a more sympathetic manner with the episode that they are currently dealing with rather than putting these people into the criminal justice system.

Both the Mental Health Advisory Council and ATCOSS made reference in their submissions to a sobering up place. They were uncomfortable with those words. The words that seem to have been adopted now are "a time out facility". There was a large area to be covered by this report. It is unfortunate that we had a lack of time and that we had no guidance from the government, but I would commend the report, particularly the submissions. The mental health submissions were particularly pleasing.

Another group to appear before us was the Abortion Counselling Service, which raised the issue of whether there were adequate services to meet the needs of special conditions in the ACT. They were questioned on that and, thankfully, afterwards we had another group appearing before us which thought that there were lots of services in the ACT, but some of the training needed to be lifted and some of the specialisation needed to be appreciated. I would commend that notion to the government as well.

Ms Tucker, as chair, will give a broad overview of what we have done on some of the other issues, but I would thank particularly those groups that put submissions together and came and spoke to us. I would also like to thank Derek Abbott and the new secretary of the committee, Siobhan Leyne, for the work that they did in getting this report together for us to table and speak to today.

MS TUCKER (11.17), in reply: I thank my fellow committee members for the work they did on this report. It was carried out under a fairly pressured timeframe, as were all other committee inquiries into community consultation on the budget. I would echo the general comments made by other chairs and members of various committees about the process and the timing of the document from the Treasurer. That was a disappointment for the committees and the members of the community who were hoping to have time to consider the content of the document before they responded on their concerns and understanding of the needs and desires for spending.

We did not, as a committee, make particular recommendations about how we thought money should be spent and for what purpose because the timeframe that we worked under, as I have already said, was quite constrained, which meant that we could not go

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