Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 5077 ..
MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (11.44): I thank Mr Hargreaves for raising this motion in the Assembly today. Of course the point Mr Hargreaves is seeking to make is that the provision of services to the ACT community is wide ranging on the part of the ACT government. There are a wide variety of services and facilities provided in both the suburban setting as well as in the key nodal centres-the town centres and group centres that support those suburban areas. I would just like to reflect on some of those from my context as Minister for Planning and Minister for Health.
Mr Speaker, the provision of community health services in Canberra has had a longstanding history and tradition of suburban-based or local-area-based health service provision, and the government continues to support that and to provide funding to deliver it. For example, in relation to community health centres, the health centres at each of the town centres provide a diverse range of services and facilities to people needing basic community health services, support and assessment. Whether it is child health, whether it is adolescent health services, whether it is services for older Canberrans, the provision of the community health centres is one which the government has maintained and indeed further enhanced.
One of the first steps I took as Minister for Health was to open the newly refurbished Belconnen Health Centre, which Ms Dundas was at as well, and that is obviously a very important refurbishment-turned investment and an ongoing investment in community health services for the Belconnen area.
But of course Ms Tucker raised other issues in the health context in her contribution to this debate, including the provision of mental health services, and this government has taken significant steps in improving the level of support available for mental health services in the ACT. We do know that there is a level of considerable concern about the support provided to mental health clients here in the ACT, and the government is taking steps to address it. For example, in the past two budgets we have increased funding to mental health services by over $3.5 million per annum-Mr Speaker, a significant improvement in funding for mental health services, given that we inherited a level of funding for mental health services which was the lowest per capita in the nation. The government is moving to address that.
The reason I raise mental health services is this: when you look at suburban services, that is where a lot of the funding and support have gone. While the opposition calls for more institutions and more buildings, we are spending the money on people and supporting people with mental health services in the community. Mr Speaker, that investment includes getting mental health outreach services into the Gungahlin district, a first, which is just so important in providing support for people with mental illness in their own homes, in their own neighbourhoods. Mr Speaker, the government has reiterated its strong level of support in those important areas of community health service delivery.
But, Mr Speaker, the government has also taken significant steps to improve access to other important health services. Ms Tucker raised the issue of dental health services. Indeed the government has now increased funding to dental health services by over $1 million per annum, Mr Speaker-an extra $1 million per annum being spent on dental health services-which is making significant inroads into the abysmal waiting list which is the legacy of both the previous government's failure to fund and indeed the failure of