Page 2034 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 7 June 2017

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in community care in the ACT in recognition of this changing environment. As I mentioned earlier, the Greens believe that the job of our health system is to keep people healthy, not just treat them when they are already sick. I think Ms Cody made some very good points about this in her earlier remarks about health and wellbeing, fitness and the associated benefits.

Certainly at the election we called for the introduction of a preventative health strategy and we are pleased that this item is being progressed in the budget process. The healthy weight initiative has been a good first step to help our community improve nutrition, increase exercise, reduce co-morbidity factors, such as smoking, and engage in active lifestyles. I look forward to seeing how the new plan expands on this investment to focus on the prevention of preventable conditions such as obesity, cardiac disease and type 2 diabetes.

Of course preventative health extends far beyond the health system and should include initiatives across transport, city services, education and other portfolios to make it easier for Canberrans to have active, healthy lifestyles. Beyond the direct investment in health services, we also need to invest in better walking and cycling paths, upgrading local sporting facilities and making it easier for families and children to participate in local sporting activities. We need to plan for the maintenance and development of recreational facilities as part of the long-term vision for our city. We also need to ensure that health education is a focus in our schools, ensuring that our children and young adults have an understanding of how to manage and improve their physical, emotional and psychological health.

This brings me to the importance of mental health as part of a holistic understanding of health and wellbeing. With one-third of our population needing mental health care at some stage in their lives, we must ensure that the mental health system can provide services that match demand. That is why we are making a significant investment to improve mental health services in the ACT through this year’s budget.

As the first Minister for Mental Health in a dedicated portfolio in the ACT, I believe in a Canberra where wellbeing is prioritised, where quality mental health services are easily available and where everyone who needs it has access to the treatment and support when they need it. My focus has been on increasing mental health support for children and youth, in line with the parliamentary agreement, and a renewed emphasis on suicide prevention: both areas that I am pleased to have delivered funding for in this year’s budget. I will speak more on each of these items as we further outline our response to the budget in coming days.

I noted the comments from the head of the AMA in today’s Canberra Times and his concerns about some of the mental health services in the territory, and Mrs Dunne made those comments earlier in the debate today. I can assure members that I will follow up those issues with the AMA. They raised them with me for the first time yesterday at the community event at lunchtime. I am organising a meeting as soon as I practically can to follow up those issues with them, because they are important questions that they have raised, and I am keen to get to the bottom of their concerns. I look forward to having that conversation in detail with them.

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