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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 8 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2281 ..

MR PRATT (continuing):

To that end, I was pleased to see that the government has put some money aside for detoxification capability, although a lot more is required. We know we have only got a handful of detoxification beds in the ACT, and this capability needs to be expanded. I commend the work that the organisation Bridge Back to Life is doing in its endeavours to pursue detoxification capability.

Intervention in schools needs to be undertaken to get to children who are addicted or who have habits approaching addiction. Again, those are health community strategies that need to be employed.

In this Drug Action Week, let's also remember that, along with treating drug dependence as a health issue, prevention strategies are also extremely important. Prevention strategies and education must commence at home. Our families have got to take responsibility. Our children have got to be taught to take responsibility for the actions that they may take.

Of course, these strategies and this education must also occur in schools. Our schools are our front line in prevention and education. Surely the community must be looking at how we can break the cycle that exists in this insidious drug war. Can we break the cycle before our children and our youth become drug dependent? Prevention is very important.

I have talked before about intervention and assertive strategies being commenced in schools and the need to ramp up our drugs education policies in schools. I do not need to go through that now chapter and verse. I am on the record. The Hansard will indicate the sorts of steps that I would like to see taken, and I will continue to encourage the government to ramp up its drugs education strategies in schools.

I was a bit surprised to hear the criticism levelled by Ms Tucker at the Prime Minister for his tough strategy stance. Those tough strategies are significant but are only one part of a broad range of measures the government is undertaking. The federal government has a broad range of strategies, of which the toughest are just as important as harm minimisation strategies.

Let's also remember the last ASSAD report, which indicated no improvement over the last four years in relation to drug-taking in schools. Our prevention and education strategies have not been working, and I continue to call upon and encourage the government to overhaul the current policies. The government is introducing some strategies; that is a good and a positive step. I urge the government to continue down that path, but our strategies need to be dramatically ramped up.

Ms Dunne is right: drug dependence is a health issue. I support those approaches that she has taken. There is no way we can criminalise people who are addicted. We need to reach out to our children and our youth and all those who are dependent. We need to deal with them in a compassionate, sensitive and intelligent way. However, I remind the house that prevention in education is just as important as those health strategies. If we can break the cycle before addiction in order to minimise the application of those health strategies, surely that is also important.

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