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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (12 March) . . Page.. 904 ..

MS MacDONALD (continuing):

should deliver this more comprehensive approach. I am aware that considerable work has already been undertaken by the steering committee towards the new strategic plan and would suggest that Assembly members take this opportunity to become better acquainted with it. Have a look at the ACT Health web site. Get in contact with the committee.

The multidisciplinary nature of the steering committee is a model for good policy development, and the level of interest shown during the recent consultation sessions is a clear marker of the level of community interest.

The second key issue I have with the motion is that its links to the community are not clear. The government's new strategy and action plan will take into account community and consumer needs. It will not be limited to a discussion about outreach workers; it will cover all aspects of mental health in the ACT, including health promotion, prevention and early intervention. It will address key issues of work force planning, which is emerging as a vital concern for:

mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention;

work force planning needs, which is a critical issue to address where any new services are being planned; and, importantly

the critical interface between health programs and other areas of human service provision that impact on people's mental health.

The new strategy and action plan will assess the needs of the most vulnerable in our community, including youth and others at risk of mental illness. But perhaps most importantly, it will not do that in isolation. It will not be a one-hit wonder. It will be based on thorough and deep consultation with the community, so that it is reflective of real rather than perceived needs. We cannot afford to do otherwise.

I want to reinforce the minister's comments that this government is going about the business of planning and delivering mental health services in a strategic and consultative way. We want to get this right and we want consumers, carers and the community to be satisfied with the plan.

From a personal perspective, I have spoken before in this place about my own dealings with my mother, who has been diagnosed with a mental health problem. She is a manic depressive and suffers from dementia. I have to say that at times having more outreach workers in the community would assist her. But there are other times when it is absolutely necessary that she get the critical and acute care that is needed.

While I agree with what Ms Dundas is saying, we need to look at the entire mental health system, which is what the five-year plan is about. As such, I am prepared to support this motion-as the government is-but I view it as only a small element of the much larger and more critical task of government to meet the mental health needs of the ACT community in the longer term.

MS DUNDAS (10.51), in reply: I thank all members of the Assembly for recognising the need for more mental health outreach workers, particularly to provide assistance for people who are leaving emergency accommodation. Ms Tucker's comments and the case studies that she mentioned highlight the desperate need for outreach workers to go into

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