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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (9 May) . . Page.. 1410 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

This may be something the health committee needs to look at. I remember, about three years ago, writing a letter to Michael Moore on this subject because concerns had been raised. As I said, for a number of years there has been national and international discussion about medicalisation of behaviour and medication of children.

We have had a number of inquiries in this place. I have received submissions from people from the organisation that supports families who have children diagnosed as having some kind of attention deficit disorder-hyperactivity. By no means do I want to diminish their issues.

I am not saying there is not a case for the medication of children. What I am saying is that maybe we should look at this to see why there is such an increase in the medication of children. We should ask: is this warranted? Is it a good thing for society? What are the long-term impacts of medicating behaviour? Is there a link between this and self-medication occurring in teenage years?

Substance abuse is often a form of self-medication, whether warranted or not. One would hope that people could find other ways of being supported, if they are very distressed or in despair, rather than medication. If it is starting at a young age, then surely there needs to be some thought put into that.

That is why I am wanting to see this debate adjourned today-so we can take a little more time and, next week, have a more detailed discussion. I may then have some amendments for this legislation.

MS DUNDAS (12.01): Mr Speaker, the Australian Democrats also support this debate being adjourned.

MR SPEAKER: Is somebody going to move that the debate be adjourned?

MS DUNDAS: If that is moved the Democrats will support it. I would like to raise some matters at the in-principle stage before we move to that point.

MR SPEAKER: I think Ms Dundas wants to make some comments.

MS DUNDAS: Sorry, I was pre-empting an adjournment. The Drugs of Dependence Amendment Bill seems to be changing a law, because it does not match current practice. As I said earlier, if there are ambiguities in our legal system between the law and the practice, this Assembly must work to address those ambiguities. We must revisit the policy issues-and here we are revisiting the legislation itself.

I agree that some issues are being brought out by having this debate. Should we be changing the law or should we be looking at how it is, in practice, implemented? That is one question I have yet to resolve.

When looking at pieces of legislation with retrospectivity in them, we should be very concerned-especially in the case where we are dealing with people's health-as we are here, with drugs of dependence.

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