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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 8 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2278 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

tobacco to get off it. We need to support community groups; that is why ADFACT was funded. At the same time we funded the residential youth withdrawal beds that we put together with the Ted Noffs Foundation. We had a very broad view about the way we should approach this issue.

There are a couple of initiatives in the government's budget this year that I applaud, particularly the indigenous youth alcohol and drug project. It is very important that we are culturally sensitive to the needs of various groups, and it is particularly amongst indigenous youth that there are needs to be met. The pharmacotherapy subsidy to community pharmacists helps with the methadone program. Many of our pharmacists are the face of public assistance for drug users collecting their methadone, so it is important that we back up our community pharmacists in the job they seek to do.

Whether you are a parent in Canberra or a parent in Lisbon, you have to take stock of what is going on around you and create an environment that reduces the reasons for people to take up drugs. At the health committee the other day, Rich Eckersley, from the epidemiology centre at the ANU, said that it was incredibly important that young people, through the education system, are taught values to help them form a "moral compass", so that they have direction, guidance and the ability to resist these temptations or, if they do succumb, the ability to find a path out. He saw in the education system the teaching of comparative religion, philosophy and other mental disciplines as there for people to draw on and develop what he called their own "moral compass". I am sure Mr Pratt will have a few words to say about how we, through education programs, can help to arm our young ones against drug abuse.

I conclude by thanking Ms Dundas for putting this on the notice paper and bringing to the attention of members that Drug Action Week is on, in case they did not know. I am sure they all did because we all take this issue seriously, even though the ways in which we might address the issue vary from one extreme of the spectrum to the other. The important thing is that we continue to talk about drugs in the Assembly, continue to highlight to the community the danger of drugs of dependence and continue to be advocates for those affected, making sure that they get access to appropriate and proper treatment so that we can work towards becoming a drug-free society.

MR CORBELL (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Planning and Minister for Industrial Relations) (4.19): Mr Speaker, I join in thanking Ms Dundas for raising this issue during Drug Action Week. The debate today provides the Assembly with the opportunity to focus on the way government and non-government agencies work together, not only on the treatment of those who are drug dependent but also on the early intervention and prevention programs we have in place.

Earlier this year a matter of public importance on drugs in schools was discussed and I advised members of a range of drug education programs currently operating in ACT schools. I pointed out then that drug use is an issue for the whole community; it is not isolated to the health sector, the criminal justice field, our schools or our homes. The comments the Chief Minister made on the holistic approach this government adopts on this issue highlight our view that drug use is not restricted to one part of the Canberra community.

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