Page 3849 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 19 October 2005

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It also recognises that:

… the Health Action Plan 2002 prioritised mental health as a strategic area of focus and recognised the health inequalities (both in terms of health status and access to services) experienced by people with a mental illness.

The report goes on to say that:

The most positive development in the ACT is the willingness of the Government to recognise the inadequacies of the current system. Generally, the Government has been non-defensive and willing to work with other national developments.

I welcome that acknowledgment by the Mental Health Council of Australia and its partners in this report. It is saying that the government is not trying to hide and not walking away from its responsibilities when it comes to improving mental health services here in the ACT. Indeed, the report states that we are non-defensive, that we are willing to work with others and that we are tackling the inadequacies that exist historically in our system.

In addition, the report stated that the government has acted quickly to implement all 58 recommendations of the Patterson report and commit to capital works to address the problems at our psychiatric services unit. It also went on to say—this will be of particular interest to Mr Stefaniak—that another notable development of the ACT government has been the enactment of Australia’s first bill of rights under the Human Rights Act in 2004. The Mental Health Council of Australia—

Opposition members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order! Members of the opposition.

MR CORBELL: I know they do not like it. The Mental Health Council of Australia, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission of Australia, and the Brain and Mind Research Institute all commend this government for establishing that act. They say explicitly that such an act will lead to better care and better protection of rights for those people here in the ACT with a mental illness. It is very strong commendation from those independent bodies. Finally, it is worth highlighting that the report finishes by saying that:

The most important aspect of recent developments in the ACT has been the clear commitment of the Government to rapid improvement in mental health services.

I am very pleased to have seen those comments made in the report. It is a balanced response. It recognises that there are serious problems in our mental health services, there are gaps in services, and there is a need to continue to improve care. But the report acknowledges the government’s commitment, willingness and openness to do that. More importantly, it recognises that we approach this in a comprehensive way that recognises human rights as an important part of managing and caring for those in our community with mental illness. We, as a government, are commended for that. We are commended for the ongoing investment we are making.

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