Page 1719 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 8 May 2013

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In providing a full suite of facilities for a small population like the ACT, it is difficult to get exactly the type of facility we want in place—the one that will best meet our community’s needs. But I am very confident that the 25-bed facility the government is now proceeding with will be the best fit for the future.

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Ms Berry.

MS BERRY: Can the minister update the Assembly about the next stages in this important project?

MS GALLAGHER: Yes, a number of reviews have taken place since the initial proposal. These were commissioned at my request and were to inform up-to-date planning for the facility. They looked at the issue of increased capacity for secure beds coming on line in New South Wales, getting an understanding of the impact of the opening of the Alexander Maconochie Centre, changes in contemporary models of care and changes to codes and regulations. Cost estimates were part of it and also demand, based on what we knew over the last five years.

The reviews confirmed that a higher demand was predicted for medium secure beds and low demand for high secure beds. In fact, only two ACT residents have required high secure care in the last five years. That has certainly informed the government’s decision to proceed with a 25-bed facility.

We have just recently moved to call for expressions of interest from suitably qualified design consultants to design the new facility. We expect that preliminary design plans will be available late this year, with a view to having the project progress to the shovel-ready status for consideration for construction funding in next year’s budget.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Hanson.

MR HANSON: Chief Minister, how many times have you, Mr Stanhope and Mr Corbell before you stood in this Assembly since 2004 and promised this facility? Why should we believe you about this latest version of this facility now?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mr Hanson for the question. It goes to the matter of trust and commitment to the mental health sector. And let me tell you: in 2001, what was the mental health budget and what was the level of services then? I think it was an operational budget of $27 million, the lowest in the country. That was under Mr Smyth’s watch. And where are we now? We have an operational budget of just over $100 million going into services.

Let us have a look at what we have built in that time. We have built the adult mental health assessment unit in the emergency department. The shame of the previous Liberal government, the psychiatric services unit, has been decommissioned and replaced with a state-of-the-art, Australian-leading adult acute mental health unit. We have a step-up, step-down facility for adults. We have a step-up, step-down facility for youth. We have a step-up, step-down facility for adolescents. We have a forensic service that works with the AMC. We have community initiatives that have gone into the non-government sector.

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