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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (12 March) . . Page.. 936 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

government, has the capacity to employ one solicitor but would like to employ more. There is a whole range of community legal initiatives that we would like to pursue. There is no Aboriginal legal service in the ACT. Why do we not fund one?

Mr Smyth: You are the Attorney-General. Start making decisions.

MR STANHOPE: Mr Smyth adopts the same attitude. The question remains: why did the Liberals not-

MR SPEAKER: Whatever Mr Smyth says is out of order, so you need not respond to it.

MR STANHOPE: Absolutely. I will not. The Liberals would ask why we do not fund an Aboriginal legal service. The response is: what support did the Liberals provide to Aboriginal legal services in seven long years of government? None. There is a myriad of reasons that there is not money available for every single thing we would like to do.

Ms Tucker: So we should stop asking? Should we just be quiet? Is that our job?

MR STANHOPE: No. I want you to keep asking, but in the interests of true accountability and in the interests of allowing the community to judge your commitment to good government, from time to time give us an indication of the expenditures that you would not undertake.

Mental health

MS MacDONALD: My question is to the Minister for Health, Mr Corbell. Mental health consumers are among the most economically disadvantaged in our community. Minister, can you outline government initiatives designed to make participation in policy development more accessible for mental health consumers?

MR CORBELL: It is generally recognised that the role of consumers is one of the significant levers government and, indeed, the community have to bring about reform in the delivery of services in the health sector because, at the end of the day, it is the consumers who benefit if the system works well or are disadvantaged if the system fails. So, in terms of informing public policy, it is important to ensure that mental health consumers, who are among the most financially and socially disadvantaged in our community, have an opportunity to participate in helping to determine services that affect them.

I was very pleased to announce this week that the ACT government would fund 60 mental health consumers to attend the Australasian Mental Health Services Conference which will be held in Canberra this year. That is an important initiative-important because it enables people with mental health issues to participate, to give their perspective, to give their ideas on how mental health service delivery can be achieved in the ACT and nationally.

The Australasian Mental Health Services Conference is held annually to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas, professional development, networking and debate for professionals, consumers, carers, families and mental health managers. For the first time,

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