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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 1569 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

People who suffer mental illness may also have other problems. More attention needs to be given to improving the training of those who provide services to people with complex and multiple needs. Only last week the government advertised a dual diagnosis position that will look at this need.

I am pleased they did. My memory is that we funded that position and intended to go ahead with it. It is consultation that worries me. I am being told by community groups that they cannot see or hear from the Chief Minister and that he will not even write back to them.

One constituent-Sister Julia, who runs the GROW program-sent me some material. She wrote to the Chief Minister in February. She wrote to me to say that she had not received a response, so she rang the Chief Minister's office and was told that a letter had been received in the Chief Minister's office but he had not yet signed it. When she rang back, she said, "I rang this office to find that the letter was signed this morning and I should have it within a day or two. If not, I am to ring back again." Why does it take from early February to 7 May to sign a simple letter acknowledging that a letter has been received. The community has a serious concern about access to this Chief Minister.

The statement moved on to the information society. I encourage the government to build on our endeavours-the TransACT initiative that will see Canberra the most wired city in the world and the work that Jacqui Burke started on the digital divide.

The Chief Minister talked about sustainability. He said:

To this end, work is progressing in my department to establish an Office of Sustainability which will be fully operational by March 2002.

It is now May 2002, so I wonder if the office is fully operational. The rest of the speech, indeed 20 per cent of it, to addresses a bill of rights. We have had some argy-bargy over this, and we all await what the Chief Minister may table.

Any assessment of what was promised would lead you to say that much was spoken, more was promised, and little has happened. Six months into the term of this government, we know what we are getting. Is it anywhere near what they offered?

MS DUNDAS (4.05): The ALP made a number of commitments in their ministerial statement of December 2001 that the Democrats are pleased to see. We welcome the proposed development of a social plan for Canberra, which we hope will recognise all the areas of greatest unmet need in the community. For example, low-cost, long-term housing and crisis housing have long been in need of additional investment.

It is also good to see the government's youth initiatives, such as enhancement of diversionary conferencing for youth offenders, the youth detoxification service and an investigation of the need for a youth night shelter. We also hope that the government will consider the establishment of a commissioner for children and young people to identify and act on the needs and goals of children and youth.

We commend the government's aged care policies, including greater support for carers and expanded rehabilitation services to get older people in hospital back into their homes.

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