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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 5002 ..

MR SMYTH: I have a supplementary question. Minister, why do you consider that Oz Help is not a successful mental health program? Or is someone else doing the cutting for you?

MR CORBELL: Oz Help is a successful program and is a program that this government and previous governments have supported. The Oz Help foundation is a joint venture of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, the MBA, the Commonwealth government and ACT Health. The ACT government has provided $320,000 over the past two years to support the Oz Help program.

The Oz Help program was initially established as a pilot program with one-off funding. The current financial commitment to Oz Help ceases when the existing service agreement expires in June 2004. The program was originally funded from a one-off source to honour a commitment by the previous government for which no source or recurrent funding was ever allocated. The government will be considering the options for ongoing funding for Oz Help. Part of that process will be based on an evaluation of the Oz Help program.

The government has no intention of cutting funding and has not indicated in any way that it will be cutting funding to Oz Help. Oz Help knows that their existing service agreement expires in the middle of June next year and that it will be considered in the same way that all other programs are considered when their contracts come to a conclusion.

Mr Wason's comments that I do not give youth suicide a high priority are of some offence to me. Mr Wason may feel that I should have a meeting with him as soon as he demands one, but the reality is that, as a minister for health, I have to meet with a wide range of people, and there are, in fact, only a limited number of days between now and when I go on leave. For that reason I have indicated to Mr Wason that he can meet with my senior adviser prior to Christmas so that his concerns can be communicated to the government and, further, that I am available to meet him after I return from leave in the new year.

Inclusion awards

MR HARGREAVES: Mr Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services. Minister, I notice that last week a dinner was held to mark the occasion of the inaugural ACT inclusion awards. What significance do these awards have for the people of Canberra, particularly the disability community? Who won these awards and for what did they win them?

MR WOOD: I thank Mr Hargreaves for his question because this is an issue that I think needs as much airing as I can possibly give it. Last Wednesday, along with a quorum, I think, of this Assembly, I attended the inaugural ACT inclusion awards. I acknowledge and thank those members who were present for lending their support.

This bold venture was attended by just over 400 guests at the Institute of Sport arena. So, put into context, it was a pretty big thing. Although it was certainly the first event of this kind, I think by the end of the night we knew it would not be the last.

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