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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3357 ..

MRS BURKE (continuing):

They need to be accessible at times when clients require the service and centred around the client needs.

I urge people to read the submissions and approach the issue with an open mind. We have now moved to a need to consider needle exchange programs in areas that we perhaps have not thought possible before-along with, of course, education about the dangers-to ensure that we certainly minimise the harm. This, of course, is consistent with the Liberal Party approach to promote and support harm minimisation. I would like to commend the federal government on its approach to drugs as a whole. No-one in this place wants anyone dependent on drugs-no-one at all. I have had that in my own family and seen the grief and distress that that brings.

There are 13 recommendations seeking to bring stakeholders and government together to work out better solutions for those in our community who need for the sake of health and safety better access to clean injecting equipment, to make a start to stemming the tide of disease and infection caused. I realise that some will find a couple of the recommendations quite challenging, particularly that of vending machines and the needle exchange programs in remand centres and correctional facilities. We can no longer hide behind the fact that we think we're hitting the spot. I again draw members' attention to the words of Carol Hart, executive officer of the Hepatitis C Council:

The benefits of a needle and syringe exchange program in ACT custodial settings will lessen the risk of overdose, reduce the risk of infection or co infection, help prevent the circulation of injecting equipment through out the institution and offer access to education and health care advice.

There is much evidence given on both these issues and I will not go into the detail of those now, other than to say that it is obvious that we must do something to stop the spread of infection through blood-borne viruses. We cannot just throw our hands up in the air saying, "It's all too hard."We have to be brave, we have to tackle the issue head-on and not avoid it. I make a heartfelt plea to this government-and to all members of this Assembly-to carefully look at and expediently act upon the recommendations and adopt a whole-of-government, whole-of-community approach embracing the true meaning of wide-open consultation. This matter must transcend political and self-interest boundaries. I urge members to digest this report and the conclusions the committee reached.

I would like to thank the committee secretariat, Siobhan Leyne, our excellent secretary; Mr Derek Abbot, acting secretary; research officer, Lesley Wheeler; and, of course, Judy Moutia, administration.

Debate (on motion by Mr Smyth ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Sitting suspended from 12.33 to 2.30 pm.

Ministerial arrangements

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, for the information of members, the minister for education and industrial relations, Katy Gallagher, is attending a ministerial council

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