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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (12 March) . . Page.. 899 ..

Wednesday, 12 March 2003

The Assembly met at 10.30 am.

(Quorum formed)

MR SPEAKER (Mr Berry) took the chair and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Mental health outreach workers-proposed recruitment

Debate resumed from 5 March 2003, on motion by Ms Dundas:

That this Assembly, recognising the need for more Mental Health Outreach Workers to provide support for people leaving emergency accommodation, calls on the ACT Government to make the recruitment of more Mental Health Outreach Workers a high priority for the 2003-2004 financial year.

MS TUCKER (10. 32): I will be supporting this motion; I think it is an important matter for the Assembly. The recent Needs analysis for homelessness in the ACT, produced by ACTCOSS; the Assembly select committee's Status of women in the ACT report and the recent ACT SAAP Mental health needs report all come around to the same point in regard to mental health services.

The recommendations of the ACT SAAP Mental health needs report, June 2002, include "the allocation of additional resources to provide outreach support to SAAP service users with mental illness upon exit into the community,"and the related "additional resourcing for non-clinical and clinical support for service users experiencing 'mild to moderate' mental illness."

Recommendation 1 of the Select Committee on the Status of Women is that the government:

a) extend outreach services in the community sector to meet the needs of disadvantaged and isolated women who may not be in a position to access current programs;

b) investigate the provision of funding for outreach workers to support women with mental health issues and their dependent children.

People marginalised by mental illness, homelessness and dysfunction are too often trapped in a cycle of crisis, chaos and then a slowly pieced together recovery, followed by another crisis, more chaos, and so on. In addition to the experience of these extremes for the persons themselves and their close families and friends, being out of control has flow-on effects on physical health, employment and maintaining housing-and losing housing has all kinds of other implications.

It is mental health workers and outworkers and social programs and activities who are needed to promote mental health and build resilience in people who are vulnerable to the cycle I have described.

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