Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (5 March) . . Page.. 592 ..
MRS BURKE (continuing):
A serious and ongoing issue is the availability of properly qualified professionals to work with people experiencing some form of mental health problem who are able to move from specialised facilities, such as Hennessy House, into their own homes and into the community. This is the ultimate goal-to see individuals living normal lives and contributing to the community.
A key issue with this process is to ensure that these people are supported by appropriate networks of family, mental health professionals and other appropriate people, and that they are encouraged to remain in their home environments and develop their lives in the local community. It is essential that such people have effective relationships with families, carers, and mental health professionals. Such people require large supportive networks, to ensure there are no relapses, a large measure of nurturing and encouragement along the road to total recovery.
The major issue, however, with this, as with virtually all other matters of public policy, is funding. Mr Speaker, I would suggest that an investment of around $300,000 is a small price to pay for the support of fellow human beings.
One important aspect related to funding of people being treated for mental health problems is to facilitate their moving into their own homes or like accommodation. This strategy also frees-up places in expensive, specialised, public facilities such as hospitals-and other facilities.
An integral component of this overall approach is to have sufficient people to provide the crucial networks of support and professional assistance,. Of course this takes substantial funds, especially for salaries and associated costs-but is $300,000 a big price to pay?
Mr Speaker, we should remember that the previous Liberal government provided considerable funds in its 2001-02 budget for mental health outreach workers, including $212,000 for vocational rehabilitation, $292,000 for mental health services-particularly case management for aged people-$120,000 for home-based outreach for young people, and $186,000 for indigenous mental health workers.
A focus of all our activities with regard to mental health is young people. As a program on ABC television last evening emphasised, when investigating people with psychoses, early intervention and treatment is invaluable and likely to be more effective than treatment in later years. Key activities in this strategy, when dealing with younger people with mental health problems, is to work with them in their home environments using, as necessary, health professionals.
I can speak from experience of a family member who was fortunate to have a good network of family support during his long road to rehabilitation from heroin use, through to drug-induced psychosis as a result of the use of marijuana and alcohol. He is now a happily married man with children but, without the underpinning of a strong support network, the story could have been very different. People often need a hand up, not necessarily a handout.
I will refer to three quotes from Ms Dundas's media release. Firstly, it says, "It simply isn't socially responsible, or even cost effective, to have people cycling endlessly