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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (5 March) . . Page.. 593 ..

MRS BURKE (continuing):

through our crisis services."Absolutely. Secondly, "Outreach workers with expertise in mental health provide support for people in need before they become people in crisis, and help them make the transition to a self-sufficient life."Thirdly, "We have had enough of reports and reviews, it is the time for action."

Mr Speaker, funding for extra outreach workers is a necessity, not a luxury. This is surely a case of prevention being better than cure-Ms Dundas alluded to that. There are sure to be cost savings if this government would urgently consider the funding of new mental health outreach workers. Transitional support is vital to establishing networks and long-term housing for these people.

Crisis mental health and housing solutions are very costly, once a person is allowed to go down the slippery slope. We should certainly look at other jurisdictions in relation to this matter. Adelaide and Melbourne have combinations of models using transitional housing managers in such facilities as Hanover, Anan, St Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army, working well together. With these examples there is, I am told, a greater capacity for a flow-through for clients, which does not put them in a treadmill situation within the system.

Another important aspect of this issue is the role of specialist non-government community organisations. They are being placed under enormous pressure at this time. The government should stop dithering now, make a decision and act to meet the need. Organisations, such as the Mental Health Foundation and the Canberra Schizophrenia Foundation among others, require adequate funding to support the provision of their services within the community.

I have pleasure in supporting this motion, Mr Speaker, and urge other members to do likewise.

MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (6.44): I thank Ms Dundas for raising the issue of mental health services in the ACT. It is a sad legacy of the seven years of the previous Liberal government in the ACT that, in comparison with other states and the Northern Territory, the ACT was ranked last in the nation in its per capita expenditure on mental health for 1999-2000.

The Commonwealth, in its National Mental Health Report last year, published this figure. This report uses 1999-2000 figures, which are the latest available comparative figures. It shows that, in the ACT, mental health expenditure was 18 per cent below the national per capita average. That is the legacy of the previous Liberal government. Mrs Burke would do well to recognise that.

The National Mental Health Report 2002 also stated that population growth in the new suburbs of Canberra required augmentation of existing services to meet increased demand.

Since coming to office, the Stanhope Labor government has made mental health a high priority. Members should be aware that it was an ALP election commitment to spend an additional $1 million on mental health. In fact, we did far better than this in our first budget. The government increased funding for mental health services recurrently by $2 million in the 2002-03 budget-and that was in these areas, Mr Speaker.

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