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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (5 March) . . Page.. 594 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

There was an additional $466,000 for child and adolescent mental health service enhancement; an additional half a million dollars for the CALCAM adolescent mental health day program; an additional $300,000 for psychogeriatric care; an additional $85,000 for Mental Illness Education ACT; an additional $326,000 for Calvary Mental Health Growth in-patient throughput, and an additional $322,000 for Older Persons' Mental Health Service expansion.

Besides that, during the course of the year, it was decided that, from the $1 million allocated for respite care in the 2002-03 budget, $105,000 would be allocated currently to Respite Care ACT for the mental health respite care program, and $100,000 worth of one-off funding to Carers ACT for the Carers of People with Mental Illness project.

Ms Dundas calls on the government to make the recruitment of more mental health outreach workers a high priority for 2003-04. The government recognises that this is a legitimate call for further support. What is not clear from Ms Dundas's motion is exactly what sort of outreach workers or services she has in mind.

Does she mean outreach visits in the community setting, from one of our nurses or social workers, or a clinical member of a regional Mental Health ACT team? Or does she mean outreach in providing a worker in supported accommodation, like a group house? Does she want clinical staff or non-clinical community workers? Does she want the government or the non-government sector to do it? Does she see that the need is amongst young people, women, indigenous people, or in all of these categories?

I would like to illustrate the complexity of the service delivery issue by giving some illustrations. For example, Mr Speaker, the ACT government currently funds Centacare to the level of $123,000 per year for the home-based outreach for a young people with special needs project. This project assists a minimum of 15 young people, aged 12 to 25, with mental illnesses and complex needs, to maintain stable accommodation.

However, we find a different type of service at Inanna, where the government provides $130,000 for medium-term accommodation for women, with or without children, who are experiencing crises. Inanna also provides information, advice, outreach services and workshops.

Additionally, the government funds the Richmond Fellowship to the tune of just over $400,000, to provide accommodation and support to 14 people living in group houses. It also provides outreach support to another 19 people living in their own accommodation. The program is transitional, aiming to have people living independently of the service after a period of time. There are different services, different service models, and different needs. The challenge for government is to decide which is the highest priority and which kind of service best meets identified needs.

Mr Speaker, we need to develop a strategic approach to mental health service development. The government's approach is about the rational, planned and consultative development of a comprehensive service system in collaboration with the community. This is why, late last year, the Chief Minister, Mr Stanhope, as Minister for Health, announced the development of a new five-year mental health strategy and action plan for the ACT. Preparation of the plan is already well underway. It is being overseen by a

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