Page 2691 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 10 August 2016

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Although the Canberra Liberals and I are supportive of the secure mental health facility, I have expressed concerns about the mix of patients coming from the Alexander Maconochie Centre, a prison facility, and patients who will be admitted from the general community. Many in the community have raised with me their concerns about how this will be managed. I am starting to get a picture of how that will occur after some time spent in briefings with the department, organised by Minister Corbell’s office.

Many patients who will be coming from the general community have never had an encounter with a jail-like system and will not necessarily be familiar with family being searched in order to visit them, nor will they be familiar with the room and belongings being searched for contraband and so on. So it will be an area we will need to look at very carefully to ensure that patients are not having their human rights degraded or breached.

Another key area of concern within the mental health field is that of youth. In the last day or so I have heard from the government about new funding for youth mental health, and I applaud this move. In February this year I moved a motion calling for a select committee to be established to look into the issue of youth suicide here in the ACT. I was pleased that it was supported and we did in fact undertake a short inquiry to start a conversation again about this area.

Back in 2014 Ms Gallagher committed to funding research into suicide in the ACT. That is being undertaken by the ANU Medical School’s Academic Unit of Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine. I understand that Professor Bev Raphael is leading the research team and that the report is expected in December of this year. I am quite aware that research has already been delayed. So I look forward to the report to see what can be done to help in the area of youth suicide, which obviously is of grave concern to many in the ACT.

In particular in the area of youth it appears that we still need better preventative intervention services for young people and better acute care for young people with ongoing mental health issues as well as specific care and support services for those battling eating disorders. I am told that many families are still taking their teenage children to Sydney to seek treatment for eating disorders, which does concern me. Obviously you want to get the treatment right. I have not formed an opinion yet about whether that can be done in the ACT. Without effective mental health support care for our young people we risk those who are afflicted or living with mental health concerns moving into adulthood plagued by mental health challenges. It is clear that this is an area that we still have a great deal of work to do in.

Finally I want to recognise all of those in the community who support and care for those who have a mental illness and who are paid under this area of the budget—our nurses within our mental health facilities, the doctors and other medical staff, the ambulance officers, police officers and fire brigade who are often the first on call when someone has a serious issue with a mental illness and work as the conduit in helping those people access the right help and care—and of course the family and friends of those who are the carers of some of those living with mental illness and

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