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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1365 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

Residential-based rehabilitation can take weeks or months, and the retention of housing is a very important part of that. I believe that provision of financial support for people going through rehabilitation, to enable them to recover accommodation costs, could be a helpful solution. A halfway house could be provided for those awaiting a bed in detox. These people can then be moved from the streets to places of safety.

Those, just briefly, are some of the problems and gaps that I, as a member of the Assembly, have been made aware of in the last six months, but we know of many more. The recent statistics on young people and drug use in schools should also be explored, especially around legal drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, because those statistics in themselves are quite concerning. Also, there are many young people who drink, but fail to recognise that alcohol has a major detrimental effect on their health and social wellbeing, whilst young people who smoke recognise that cigarette damage is quite harmful.

I welcome this motion from Ms Tucker. I hope the task group will be able to work through these problems and provide some very clear and strong recommendations to the government and this Assembly.

Sitting suspended from 6.25 to 8.00 pm.

MS GALLAGHER (8.00): I thank Ms Tucker for moving this motion on what remains an important area of social policy and on an imperative for government to ensure that this difficult area of government and community responsibility is treated according to the realities of drug use, addiction and abuse rather than with knee-jerk solutions.

The motion presents a measured and considered approach to the issues. It proposes a consultative and collaborative approach, which we believe not only will contribute to the empirical data resources on drug use in the ACT but will, undoubtedly, help government implement effective strategies to deal with the health concerns of individuals with drug problems and address the social costs of drug use.

It must be made a priority that statistics and personal accounts of drug use be reliably compiled so that government can support people dealing with addiction in an appropriate way and provide a system recognising the need for a harm minimisation strategy. We must also act to ensure that community safety and, most importantly, the personal safety of users is prioritised. We must focus on risk reduction and prevention. I believe that consultation of the sort proposed here will reveal that this is the most appropriate way to progress the issue.

We must also recognise the different type of abuse and differing social standing of drugs of choice. Strategies for lowering the use of tobacco and alcohol have been successful in the recent past, especially amongst young people, with a highly publicised and supportive approach. We do need to reduce the supply of harmful drugs, but we must also reduce harmful drug use. Recent policy changes at a national level to a tough-on-drugs stance

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