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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 8 Hansard (27 June) . . Page.. 2341 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

can do that through specific programs that provide support. We can do it through enhanced drug education. We can do it in a whole range of ways.

We can support younger people in a range of ways, and we are doing that through this budget. We can adopt a philosophical approach to the administration of justice, and we are committed to that. We are committed to exploring additional ways of diverting children and young people from the criminal justice system.

We are committed to ensuring that the Australian Federal Police, the finest police force in Australia, continue to deal in sensitive ways with young people so that we can divert them from the criminal justice system. This underpins my philosophy, the philosophy of the department of justice and the philosophy of this government, and it is represented and reflected in our budget.

MS DUNDAS: I thank the Attorney for his long and detailed answer. Attorney, both the DPP and you have expressed publicly a concern for people with mental illness caught in our criminal justice system, particularly young people. When do you expect to be able to turn this current and worrying trend around?

MR STANHOPE: I wonder whether Ms Dundas might explain which worrying trend.

Ms Dundas: The worrying trend of people with mental illness being caught in the criminal system.

MR STANHOPE: I would like to be able to wave a magic wand. In relation to people with a mental illness who come into contact with the criminal justice system, we are dealing with some of the issues at the hard edge of policy-making and administration. It is not just a question of resources. I am very proud of the fact that in the budget we provided an additional $4.3 million over four years for mental health services. That is a very significant boost. We recognised that we do not do enough to support people with a mental illness. There is no doubt about that. It is one of the gaps in the service that we recognise. That is why in the budget we provided another $4.3 million for mental health services.

You are aware that mental health services are focused on two main areas. They are focused on youth and the needs of older people who face mental health issues. We recognise the problem. We recognise the particular problems that people with a dual diagnosis suffer-those with co-morbidity, those with a mental health issue and an overriding substance abuse problem. These are the issues at the hard edge.

All governments have struggled. All governments have sought out a whole range of models for dealing with the issues that people with a dual diagnosis face. We are doing the same. Just last week I launched a new partnership between ACT Mental Health Services and Drug and Alcohol in relation to the problem that faces people with a dual diagnosis. I know my predecessors did the same. Mr Moore, a couple of years ago, launched a major study of the very same issue. These are hard-end, tough issues, and we are working diligently to find a way forward and to develop partnerships with to deal with them.

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