Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 1656 ..
MS MacDONALD (continuing):
Mr Deputy Speaker, I listened with interest to Ms Tucker's historical perspective. She certainly has a much better knowledge of the history than somebody, like me, who has recently come to this place, and I listened with interest to what she had to say. I listened to the Chief Minister's speech and also welcome Mr Smyth's-as I understand it-recent interest in better meeting the mental health needs of the ACT community. I look forward to his support in implementing the government's approach to enhancing the scope and effectiveness of mental health services.
Two weeks ago, the minister announced the following three-tiered approach. The first tier of that approach is that, in developing a new plan, the government will take into account community needs. This will not be about just facilities, as Mr Smyth has simplistically called for; it will cover the promotion of mental health and prevention and early intervention in mental illness. It will look at work force planning needs, which is a critical issue to address where any new services are being planned. It will look at the critical interface between health programs and other areas of human services provision that impact on people's mental health.
The second tier is that the ACT Department of Health and Community Care has commenced a review of safety and quality processes for mental health service delivery across the ACT. The third is that the Minister for Health has issued a directive to the Community and Health Services Complaints Commissioner to investigate the accessibility and standards of acute mental health services and the adequacy of follow-up care for those most at risk.
The three-tiered approach recognises the promotion of mental health and wellbeing and the provision of services to address mental health problems. It is a complex process that involves more than funding specific programs to meet specific needs. It requires an understanding of the evidence base, it requires collaboration across education, community and health sectors and it requires genuine community consultation. The immediate steps-outlined by the Minister for Health two weeks ago and which I have just reiterated-to address the community concern that services be safe and high quality will provide a firm foundation on which policy and service development can occur.
As the Minister for Health has said, service improvement and meeting community needs are not simply a matter of providing additional facilities. I commend the minister for his commitment to developing a stronger and more effective mental health service for the ACT community and his willingness to put both financial and work force resources into achieving this.
MR PRATT (4.31): Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to speak in support of Mr Smyth's motion. I want to talk about school children at risk of mental illness. In discussing the need for additional facilities and services, I would like to see government extend the discussion to the provision of more flexible services, moving in and out of schools, to support teachers in their identification of children at risk. I will also talk about preventative health programs for school children.
Yesterday I spoke briefly about the ASSAD report-the drugs survey-and what that had to tell us about the increasing use of illicit drugs by school children. An upward trend shown in that report concerns us mightily. I stress an "upward" trend, despite what