Page 5213 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 29 November 2017
government seem to inhabit. Some people use the epithet “a cool little capital” as a bit of a joke, but when Mr Steel uses it, it is never a joke. I think Mr Steel does not know how to joke; he is very serious about it. The main thing he says is, “We’ve got a cool little capital,” which really does exemplify the Braddon-based bubble and the way the members of this government look at this city.
I want to put it on the record that we live in a great city. We are very fortunate to live in this sort of city, and the opportunities afforded us just by being Canberrans cannot be understated. But for Mr Pettersson and the members of the government to come in here and put together a selective list of achievements does not reflect the experiences of my constituents and the people that I talk to in their daily struggles. Those experiences are curiously absent from this list.
There is a list of things the government has done in paragraph (1), but one of the things notable by its absence is that the ACT government went to the last election with a commitment for an office of mental health. Recently, in my absence in early November, the minister made a statement on his achievements in the last year in relation to mental health. The thing that is the most notable by its absence is the failure to do anything to see the formation of the much-vaunted office of mental health.
The Minister for Mental Health could not explain why there had been so little progress in relation to the office of mental health and why there has been such a poor attempt to address the chronic shortage of paediatric psychiatry services in the ACT. This was again highlighted this week by the discussion on ABC Radio led by principals of schools, particularly Ms Loretta Wholley from Merici College, talking about the crisis in adolescent mental health in the ACT.
I remind members of the case study I brought to the annual reports hearings of a Canberra parent who approached me about their child who was doing really well during primary school. But in the transition from primary school to high school the parent told me about the problems they encountered: the changes in that child’s mental health; the severity of the changes in that child’s mental health; the incapacity of the ACT system to address the needs of that child; the need for those parents to take that child interstate for extended periods of hospitalisation because the services were not available here in the ACT; and the difficulties they encountered when they brought that child back from a stint in hospital. They could not get appointments for the services they needed to continue that child’s care to the point that that child despairs at ever getting better because the mental health services promised by the government are not available for that child and that family.
That is one case, and it is repeated time and again across the ACT. The principals of ACT schools are tearing their hair out because they are, more than anyone, at the front line of this. The crisis in adolescent mental health is enough in itself for this government, this Chief Minister and this Minister for Mental Health to hang their heads in shame. My constituents—the people who live in west Belconnen who do not get to eat tofu burgers in Braddon out of street caravans and the like because they cannot afford it, the transport is not there for them and the parking when they get to