Page 4170 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 15 November 2005

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Members of the CFMEU who were threatened with individual fines of $22,000 for attending were proudly flying their union flags. Childcare workers, truck drivers, retail workers, the men and women whom this city relies upon to function, came together to fight, and fight they will. If Mr Mulcahy was not nervous this morning, he should have been because, as Greg Combet said, today is just the beginning.

Industrial relations

Mental health

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.58): First of all, I want to endorse the things that Mr Gentleman said and to say that I was very proud to be amongst the 4,000 people today. I just hope that we are all going to go and join a union now, if we are not already part of one.

I am going to use the time available to me in the adjournment debate to finish saying what I was saying about mental health during the MPI debate when the clock so cruelly cut me off mid-sentence. Mental health is a really serious issue. I know that it adds a certain heaviness to the adjournment debate, but I feel that it is incumbent upon me to make the points that I need to make because they were not made by other people.

There are people in the ACT with a psychiatric disability whose interactions with mental health staff are no longer therapeutic. I know that they are seen as a problem to both the staff and to police and the courts. In fact, some of these people have been refused treatment by mental health services. How do we deal with that? They have human rights, like everyone else.

Work done by ADICUS, which is a group that advocates for people with disabilities, people with elderly people in care and others, has asserted that the fundamental need is for adequate levels of suitable staff in the ACT government and community-based agencies. It is a pity that increasing the numbers and the expertise of staff is not seen as a sexy thing that governments can put in front of voters before an election; yet that is where the need is. Perhaps we do not need more buildings to the same extent that we need good staff.

The other problem is that, partly because of the lack of good staff and resources, ACT mental health services operate under a risk management approach. Thus, people need to be in crisis to get attention. As a result, those people who are not in crisis receive very little support through case management. When they are well they are neglected and when they are ill they are considered too difficult.

The major place where people are well is when they are living their own lives as closely as possible, and that means in their own homes. That is why we need to be able to oversee their needs, to listen to them and to support them at that varying level. Sometimes they will not need much support at all, but often a person with a mental illness knows when they are going to go into a situation where they need support and that is when the resources need to be there.

Whilst we acknowledge that the deinstitutionalisation programs of the 1970s were based on a very progressive idea, they were not accompanied by an equivalent development of

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