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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (11 April) . . Page.. 984 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

for a review and study of unmet need for advocacy services for disadvantaged people who are unable to independently defend their rights. That is a fundamental system issue that the committee was quite comfortable in supporting.

We had a comprehensive submission from the Junction and the Youth Coalition on the health of young people. That is something else on which we have had a number of other reports and the government should be well aware of them, as it should be well aware of the questions of respite care.

The midwifery question is a current issue that does need urgent attention from the government. The government needs to respond to that fundamental issue for health in our community. There was a strong reference in the ACTCOSS submission to indigenous health. Aged care has come up as another area that is becoming increasingly urgent.

Mental health was mentioned in most submissions. There was a comprehensive submission put in on behalf of the advisory council which covered the broad issues of mental health. I would urge the government to take that document very seriously. I know that the funds are limited and I know and understand what the Treasurer is saying about the need to become aware of increasing budget constraints and the calls for assistance in so many areas, but mental health is an issue that has come up. I chaired an inquiry in, I think, 1997 and there have been numerous reports by consultants on the issue. Basically, something has to be done about it. I commend this report to the government and to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Legal Affairs-Standing Committee

Report No 1

Debate resumed from 9 April 2002, on motion by Mr Stefaniak:

That the report be noted.

MR HARGREAVES (11.26): I think this is an absolutely terrific report, Mr Speaker. It was compiled by a bunch of people who are absolutely brilliant and I commend it to the Assembly.

MS TUCKER (11.27): I have just made similar comments about process on behalf of the health committee. I would also qualify this report with the same remarks I made in respect of the health committee report, which is that we have an incomplete picture.

However, having said that, I also think some important issues have been raised. I would particularly like to focus on the issue of equity and access to legal support and legal services. I think a number of issues need to be addressed, and perhaps our committee will look at community legal centres and so on. But we have a situation in this city where there are a number of calls now, through submissions, for programs that do ensure access for people who are disadvantaged to legal assistance. I would like to stress that this is a very fundamental part of a democratic society.

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