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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 8 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2280 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

The ACT government funds a range of other drug education initiatives for children, young people at risk and parents, right across our community. We need to continue to work together-within the health sector, with the police and the courts, in our schools and as parents-to find solutions to the problem of drug misuse and abuse.

This is an issue of significant concern to young people, parents and children in the ACT education system. For this reason I have put the issue of drug education and the adequacy of existing arrangements on the agenda of the next Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs-the MCEETYA meeting-which will take place in July this year. We need to enhance research into young people's attitudes and views and on the most effective forms of drug education in the prevention of increasing drug experimentation and usage by school students. I hope that by raising this matter at the ministerial council meeting we can continue the focus at a national level.

We should be aiming to strengthen our young people's resolve to make positive lifestyle choices. Understanding the issues of self-worth and self-image is essential to young people's understanding and knowledge of the dangers associated with drug use. A key component in effective drug education has to be a multi-agency approach incorporating the views of health and justice professionals in the development and delivery of drug education programs.

As the Chief Minister pointed out, the government has allocated funding in this year's budget to a program for young members of the indigenous community with alcohol and drug problems. Community pharmacists will provide pharmacotherapy services, and they will receive additional support. There will be $170,000 in recurrent funding to develop indigenous specific detoxification beds, with mainstream service support, and $130,000 in recurrent funding to increase the payment provided to pharmacists who participate in the ACT pharmacotherapy scheme.

Also, research shows a strong connection between substance abuse and mental health. This budget has provided extra funding in this area for young people-for example, the expansion of the child and adolescent mental health services, the Calvary day program and the mental illness education program to be run in schools.

It is also worth adding that this year's budget includes significant funding for the establishment of Youth Interact, a project to engage young people in policy making and decision making that affects them and to assist in forming government decisions. The Youth Interact project is another useful forum for engaging young people in issues that affect them and, particularly in relation to drug use, for getting the most informed and direct advice from young people themselves about how we should address the ongoing issue of drug use in our community.

MR PRATT (4.27): Mr Speaker, I rise in my capacity as shadow education minister to talk about our youth. I thank Ms Dundas for her MPI. I think it is useful for this matter to be raised, and I support the approaches that she is taking. She is absolutely right: drug dependence is a health issue. There is no question about that.

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