Parliamentary record : Part I debates (16 February 1989)
Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990
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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Thursday 16 February 1989 Mr Dale interjecting. Mr EDE: team. I see. You have just redefined the composition of an assessment Mr Dale: No. I have done what I have been able to do, given the difficulties of recruiting some of the staff you mentioned. Mr EDE: All right, you have done something. Mr Speaker, the government has not done what it promised to do before the election. Th~ fact of the matter is . Members interjecting. Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Minister for Transport and Works and the member for Nightcliff will have an adequate chance to participate in this debate. Meanwhile, the member for Stuart will be heard in silence. Mr EDE: Mr Speaker, I believe that the government first talked about the integration of this service in 1985. I believe that 2 psychiatrists were to be involved originally, 1 from the privat~ sector and 1 from the public system. In any case, the promise specified a psychiatrist, a psychologist, social workers and support staff. The fact is that those staff are not in place and the minister's statement bears that out. At page 6 of his statement, he talks about in-patient services at the Alice Springs Hospital. He tells us that the aim of such services is 'to provide an efficient, effective, high-quality mental health assessment and treatment service to Northern Territorians'. We have no problem with that aim. It is excellent and we agree with it. On the next page, however, the minister says that 'programs currently in place are both comprehensive and integrated'. Mr Speaker, that is not so. They are not comprehensive. Mr Hatton: Prove that statement. Mr EDE: The minister's own working party identified what was needed as far as an assessment team was concerned. We do not have such a team and the minister can attempt to rebut that at his peril. He does not have the comprehensive team which he claims to have. Mr Dale: If you are so knowledgeable about it, tell us who is missing. Mr EDE: Mr Speaker, let us have a look at the extent of the problem in Alice Springs. In early 1987, a survey indicated that there were some 80 people with behavioural problems in the Aboriginal community in central Australia. A number of recommendations were put forward to deal with that problem, including community-based options and secure facilities. Recent episodes in Alice Springs involving assaults on 2 patients in Ward 1 clearly reveal that the current system is inadequate. No one is safe and that includes the patients, the staff, and the visitors. Mr Speaker, the opposition's difficulty with the minister's statement is that he has attempted to sweep the problem under the carpet. He says that he has a comprehensive, integrated service, meaning that the problem is solved. Mr Dale: No. Mr EDE: He talks about being way in front of the rest of Australia, and the member for Casuarina says the same thing. 5567
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