Archive for the ‘ACT Election 2008 Campaign’ Category

16/10/2008

Tired of Labor?

Never vote Liberal?

There IS an alternative:

Vote DEMOCRATS!

Darren CHURCHILL (Ginninderra) and Greg TANNAHILL (Molonglo)

For honesty, tolerance and compassion.

Choose Common Sense

A.C.T. DEMOCRATS!!!

You CAN change the world!

VOTE DEMOCRATS!!!

Give a Damn!

and

in the A.C.T Election on October 18

Keep the Bastards Honest!

Media Release: 16 October, 2008 ACT Democrats “Keeping the Bastards Policy” Announcement. Churchill says: “Let’s get the Cross-Bench right. Now ore than ever, Canberra needs the Democrats!”

15/10/2008

DARREN CHURCHILL
ACT Democrats President
Candidate for Ginninderra

Media Release: 16 October, 2008
ACT Democrats “Keeping the Bastards Policy” Announcement.
Churchill says: “Let’s get the Cross-Bench right. Now ore than ever, Canberra needs the Democrats!”

“Let’s get the cross-benchi right!” insisted ACT Democrats president and candidate for Ginninderra, Darren Churchill announcing his party’s “Keeping the Bastards Honest” Policy.

“It’s time for action on good governance, accountability, and community consultation.” Mr Churchill announced

The Democrats candidates, Darren Churchill (Ginninderra) and Greg Tannahill (Molonglo) have been campaigning in this election on the Democrats familiar message of “Keep the Bastards Honest!” Now comes the policy announcement.

“Keeping the bastards honest” is more than just a slogan for the Democrats. It’s core business.” Mr Churchill affirmed.

“People have been badly let down by majority government, Chief Ministerial arrogance and lack of community consultation.” Mr Churchill continued. “Now more than ever, Canberra needs the Democrats!”

The ACT Democrats “Keeping the Bastards Honest” Policy emphasises the need for an effective, independent cross-bench (a role which Mr Churchill believes comes naturally to the Democrats). It also contains proposals for the organisation of Assembly business, the role of MLA’s, reform of the committee system, community consultation, the function of a “balance of responsibility,” and the obligation of Democrats politicians to vote according to their conscience on all issues.

“All MLA’s should vote with their conscience on all issues. It’s nonsense that politicians tell voters they will represent them, but then do as the party Whip tells them.” Declared Mr Churchill. “The independence of the conscience vote is one of the key reasons the Democrats were formed and why we continue today”

“Only the Australian Democrats can deliver an impartial, independent cross-bench, sensible negotiation and good outcomes on legislation. Only the Australian Democrats offer fair dinkum community consultation and participation iin the democratic process.”

“If you want a better deal and a fairer community, if you want an effective cross-bench; if you want to change the world and make the next government accountable; vote for Greg Tannahill in Molonglo and Darren Churchill in Ginninderra. Because only the Australian Democrats will “Keep the Bastards Honest!” concluded Mr Churchill, emphasising his party’s mission statement.

Darren Churchill
ACT Democrats President
Candidate for Ginninderra
darren.churchill@act.democrats.org.au
Tel: 0412 196 473

A Speech by Darren Churchill, Candidate for Ginninderra, to the University of Canberra “Candid Candidates” Election Event, UC Refectory, 15 October, 2008

15/10/2008

A Speech by Darren Churchill, Candidate for Ginninderra, to the University of Canberra “Candid Candidates” Election Event, UC Refectory, 15 October, 2008

G’day,

Folks, it could be said that the Australian Democrats have done quite a bit of work on Social Justice. That is true. Right from the beginning, my party was formed on the principles of honesty, tolerance and compassion, with policies based on common sense and fairness.

We are the true small “l” liberals, socially progressive, being a voice for Aboriginal reconciliation, human rights and refugees as well as championing the environment long before it was ever trendy to do so. In 2008, the ACT Democrats stand by those very same principles

The Australian Democrats have always taken a positive approach to the idea of Social Inclusion by recognising and responding to the diverse needs of all Australians, with particular emphasis on those in greatest need. We continue to do so.

Social inclusion is about social cohesion. It is about creating a framework, whereby the poor, the marginalised, the oppressed, are provided with the opportunities to share in society’s prosperity, to participate in society.

It is the role of government to ensure that there is a safety net to protect those who slip through the cracks of our economic and social structures.

For many Canberrans the real threats to their security come from poverty, unemployment, and a lack of opportunity or poor access to services.

I have been asked today to talk about four specific topics and I will focus the bulk of my speech on these areas.

Firstly, Cost of Living

The cost of living is a difficult statistic to calculate. People with different lifestyles spend their income on different “baskets” of goods and services. Are you a poor student? Or do you have a family and buying a house? Are you a retiree or a pensioner? Quality of life is a related concept. Some people choose to have a lower income so that they can live somewhere quiet and peaceful and some like the higher income and stress and congestion of city life.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that Canberra is the third most expensive capital city to live in, in Australia, behind Sydney and Melbourne. Canberra has the second highest average income. Australia has a lower average cost of living than the USA or UK. But, from a Democrats perspective, what is more important than a single average statistic is the spread from poor to rich. Does our society give everyone a fair chance to get started – to buy a home if you want to? Do we have a decent welfare safety net to catch the disadvantaged? Can we all get a decent feed and medical attention?

The Democrats believe that the best way to avoid a cost of living problem is to ensure that everyone has the opportunity for full time employment. The ACT government has a significant role to play in planning for future employment and economic growth and stability. Canberra has never really had a long term plan to achieve this goal, and its something the Democrats have as a priority.

The Skills Crisis

Some people claim there is a skills crisis in Australia. I say there is business and industry management failure. Why are their job vacancies that can’t be filled (without cheap migrant labour)? Because either the pay or conditions just aren’t good enough. I don’t believe Australians are too lazy too work, but they are also not stupid enough to work for nothing. Business and Industries with a labour problem need to get their act together and offer decent conditions.

One of the major failures in industries where there is a supposed skills shortage is really the inability for workers to get a reliable income. You can’t work and plan for your future if you don’t have a steady income (unless you are on a hundred thousand dollars a year or more). With an ageing workforce and an increase in the expectation that people will cater for their own retirement income through superannuation, the casualisation of the workforce is just increasing the tax burden on those who do have regular incomes.

Sustainability of Development

Sustainability has three equally important aspects – economic, environmental and social. Its what we Democrats call the triple bottom line. It’s the core of the way that the Democrats judge good policy, by how policy meets those three criteria.

Economic sustainability means we need to develop a broad based and efficient employment base designed around what Canberra is good at. We don’t have minerals or agriculture as an economic base, so we have to have something else – and something other than reliance on being the seat of Australian government.

The Democrats support the development of high-tech, information-tech and green jobs. We want the ACT to capitalise on the research base we have in the CSIRO and our Universities to make Canberra a centre of excellence for housing construction processes that are energy efficient, water efficient and carbon neutral.

Environmental sustainability means maintaining a high quality of both urban and rural environment. Right now, we have to ensure that the international economic crisis is managed, but it can’t be allowed to overtake the importance of tackling the global warming problem.

The Democrats want the ACT to have long term water use and energy plans, to make sure that we can maintain a decent standard of living while maintaining good environmental water flows and minimising our carbon debt. Our transport policy aims to move an increasing percentage of commuters from cars to public transport – buses and light rail – and bicycles. Ideally, we’d like a full 24-hour bus service, seven days a week. But that’s something we have to work our way up to as Canberra grows. We accept that there are circumstances where private transport is still the only way to be flexible, and we need to cater properly for that too.

Social sustainability means having a range of housing, education and health services and infrastructure so that everyone has a reasonable standard of living. (And accepting that it is the role of the Federal government to manage things like unemployment and disability incomes)

The Democrats have a vision of Canberra with more high-rise, high density living around town centres and transport corridors while maintaining a suburban Bush Capital lifestyle for those who want it, and providing a decent supply of student accommodation and emergency welfare housing. We want to revert to a system of local neighbourhood primary schools to rebuild community cohesiveness and minimise travel. We want much more government funding for health to increase the supply of doctors (and especially bulk billing doctors), to reduce hospital waiting times and to increase community-nursing services for those who find it difficult to travel.

Higher Education Funding

This is to a large extent a Federal government issue, but there are things we can do at a local level. Governments have a responsibility to give every Australian a good education, but the Democrats believe that vocational training should mainly be the role of the business or industry that wants specific skills.

The Democrats have always opposed plans for commercial funding of educational institutions and believe that even at a tertiary level subject curricula should be designed to give an educational expertise rather than a specific narrow skill set just designed for a specific job. Job skills change as jobs come and go over time – education should be designed to give students the ability to be trained and re-trained as necessary. But, we also believe that individual companies or industries should provide scholarships and apprenticeships to individual students so as to be able to supply their own industry requirements.

Governance

For better governance, the Democrats stand by our principle that Governments should be held to honour their election promises. And recognise that a government has a mandate to govern and implement the platform it was elected to, but not to dictate or force through unfair legislation; it must be scrutinised and debated to “keep the bastards honest.”

We are the negotiators, the natural party of the cross-benches, the people who know how to make otherwise bad legislation into better, fairer legislation for all. We work for good outcomes. If laws are to be honest and just, the Assembly and the public must be given ample time to discuss all proposed legislation.

We don’t side with either Labor or Liberal. We maintain our independence. It is an obligation on Democrats politicians to vote with their conscience on all issues.

So, whether it is a re-elected Labor government, on Saturday. Or, whether it is a new Liberal government. If we are elected, as Democrats, Greg Tannahill and I (Darren Churchill) will maintain an independent cross-bench. We will be sensible negotiators. We will uphold the Australian Democrats principles of honesty, tolerance and compassion. And, we will “Keep the Bastards Honest!”

Thank you.

Media Release: 15 October, 2008 ACT Democrats “Keeping the Bastards Policy” Released. Churchill says: “Now more than ever, Canberra needs the Democrats!”

15/10/2008

DARREN CHURCHILL
ACT Democrats President
Candidate for Ginninderra

Media Release: 15 October, 2008
ACT Democrats “Keeping the Bastards Policy” Released.
Churchill says: “Now more than ever, Canberra needs the Democrats!”

ACT Democrats president and candidate for Ginninderra, Darren Churchill has announced his party’s “Keeping the Bastards Honest” Policy.

“It’s time for action on good governance, accountability, and community consultation.” Mr Churchill announced

The Democrats candidates, Darren Churchill (Ginninderra) and Greg Tannahill (Molonglo) have been campaigning in this election on the Democrats familiar message of “Keep the Bastards Honest!” Now comes the policy announcement.

“Keeping the bastards honest” is more than just a slogan for the Democrats. It’s core business.” Mr Churchill affirmed.

“People have been badly let down by majority government, Chief Ministerial arrogance and lack of community consultation.” Mr Churchill continued. “Now more than ever, Canberra needs the Democrats!”

The ACT Democrats “Keeping the Bastards Honest” Policy emphasises the need for an effective, independent cross-bench (a role which Mr Churchill believes comes naturally to the Democrats). It also contains proposals for the organisation of Assembly business, the role of MLA’s, reform of the committee system, community consultation, the function of a “balance of responsibility,” and the obligation of Democrats politicians to vote according to their conscience on all issues.

“All MLA’s should vote with their conscience on all issues. It’s nonsense that politicians tell voters they will represent them, but then do as the party Whip tells them.” Declared Mr Churchill. “The independence of the conscience vote is one of the key reasons the Democrats were formed and why we continue today”

“Only the Australian Democrats can deliver an impartial, independent cross-bench, sensible negotiation and good outcomes on legislation. Only the Australian Democrats offer fair dinkum community consultation and participation iin the democratic process.”

“If you want a better deal and a fairer community, if you want an effective cross-bench; if you want to change the world and make the next government accountable; vote for Greg Tannahill in Molonglo and Darren Churchill in Ginninderra. Because only the Australian Democrats will “Keep the Bastards Honest!” concluded Mr Churchill, emphasising his party’s mission statement.

Darren Churchill
ACT Democrats President
Candidate for Ginninderra
darren.churchill@act.democrats.org.au
Tel: 0412 196 473

Media Release: 13 October, 2008 Churchill to Seselja: Dems say “Better Late than Never” to Libs on Light Rail.

14/10/2008

DARREN CHURCHILL
ACT Democrats President
Candidate for Ginninderra

Media Release: 13 October, 2008
Churchill to Seselja: Dems say “Better Late than Never” to Libs on Light Rail.

The ACT Democrats have welcomed the Opposition Leader’s announcement of a feasibility study into Light Rail. “It’s about time!” declared Democrats candidate for Ginninderra, Darren Churchill. “Definitely better late than never!”

Canberra news services reported tonight that the Opposition has announced it will spend $8 million dollars to investigate options for Light Rail.

“The Democrats will be holding Mr Seselja to his words.” Mr Churchill said. “This is something the Democrats have been advocating for over seven years. We took a proposal for Light Rail to the election back in 2001. It’s been democrats policy for years!”

“Now that both of the big parties have given agreement to the idea, let’s see if we can get some action” said Mr Churchill. “Labor need to agree to lock in their commitment and to guarantee they won’t shelve it with dirty tricks and rezoning like the did previously with the dragway. And now that the Liberals have announced they are serious, we need to make sure they are true to their word too.”

“It’s great that they have adopted Democrats policy and seen sense on this important issue! But the Democrats are not prepared to be simply a policy “think tank’ for the old parties. We need to make sure they follow up their words with actions.

Mr Churchill announced the Democrats Light Rail Policy two weeks ago at the ACT Light Rail candidates forum. The policy is on the Democrats website at http://www.act.democrats.org.au.

“If elected, Greg Tannahill (Molonglo), and I, Darren Churchill (Ginninderra) will make sure that whoever forms the next government that they honour these and other promises. We will keep the bastards honest!” Mr Churchill concluded emphatically.

Darren Churchill
ACT Democrats President
Candidate for Ginninderra
darren.churchill@act.democrats.org.au
Tel: 0412 196 473

Media Release: 12 October, 2008: “Teaching the Others a Lesson!”: ACT Democrats Release Education Policy.

14/10/2008

DARREN CHURCHILL
ACT Democrats President
Candidate for Ginninderra

Media Release: 12 October, 2008:
“Teaching the Others a Lesson!”: ACT Democrats Release Education Policy.

“The ACT Democrats support a fully funded, free and accessible public education system. Canberra should be a national educational showcase with a variety of education options and a college system that is the envy of other states. We want an education system where teachers are recognised and valued as professionals.” announced ACT Democrats Ungrouped candidate for Ginninderra, Darren Churchill, launching the Democrats Education Policy at the start of the fourth school term.

Policy initiatives include: recognising and rewarding our teaching professionals; families to have access to a range of high-quality education options to suit their children and their values; a curriculum that teaches literacy and numeracy but also facilitates responsible citizenship, conflict resolution, multicultural studies, environmental responsibility, and personal health; and support for the construction of Gungahlin College as soon as possible.

“A good education system is an investment in society’s future. We need to return to choice in Education, so parents have options for their children.” said Mr Churchill (a qualified teacher).

“We will also restore the pay and conditions for Relief Teachers to pro-rata of their full-time colleagues. All teachers should be valued and respected!’ Mr Churchill declared

“It’s time for education to be taken seriously. That begins with access to a free, high quality and equitable education in public schools. We need a system where teachers can teach and pupils can learn. That means cutting down on unnecessary administrative burdens for teachers.”

“Quality education is back on the agenda!” Mr Churchill concluded.

Darren Churchill
ACT Democrats President
Candidate for Ginninderra
darren.churchill@act.democrats.org.au
Tel: 0412 196 473

Media Release: 12 October, 2008 Democrats question Oppositions Lack of Original Thought Over Pensions Plan: “What about other Pensioners, Zed?”

14/10/2008

DARREN CHURCHILL
ACT Democrats President
Candidate for Ginninderra

For Immediate Release
Media Release: 12 October, 2008
Democrats question Oppositions Lack of Original Thought Over Pensions Plan: “What about other Pensioners, Zed?”

ACT Democrats “ungrouped” candidate for Ginninderra, Darren Churchill has asked “Why were other Pensioners left out of Mr Seselja’s promised $500 payment?”

Radio Stations and the Canberra Times today report that Mr Seselja has offered a one-off payment of $500 to single Aged Pensioner before Chrismas if the Liberals are elected.

“We want to know why it’s only single Aged Pensioners” Mr Churchill said. “What about other pensioners, Zed? Surely, other Pensioners are struggling with money too. Don’t they deserve some assistance?”

“It seems a little unfair to just single out one group of Pensioners. What about some equal treatment?”

“I think you’ll find that Mr Seselja is just trotting out the same line as his Federal leader, Mr Turnbull (that only single Aged Pensioners need help), without really thinking things through or looking at fairness aspects.” stated Mr Churchill. “What about other single Pensioners – Disabled, Single Parents, Carers, etc? What about couples?”

“Mr Seselja has really only reproduced a somewhat “parrot-like” policy from his Federal leader without really giving much thought to all the other disadvantaged Pensioners who might have difficulty making ends meet. There’s not single bit of original thought gone into his announcement! Mr Churchill concluded emphatically.

Darren Churchill
ACT Democrats President
Candidate for Ginninderra
darren.churchill@act.democrats.org.au
Tel: 0412 196 473

Media Release: 10 October 2008 Government to Assist Business Rather than Compete. And Planning a Sustainable Canberra with Confidence, say Democrats.

13/10/2008

DARREN CHURCHILL
ACT Democrats President
Candidate for Ginninderra

Media Release: 10 October 2008
Government to Assist Business Rather than Compete. And Planning a Sustainable Canberra with Confidence, say Democrats.

The ACT Democrats have announced their much awaited “Business” and “Planning” Policies.

Launching the policies, ACT Democrats president and candidate for Ginninderra declared “The Democrats will improve the role of government in supporting and facilitating business. We will make it easier for local businesses to get government contracts and encourage an expanded economic base in Canberra.”

For Business, the Democrats will aim to broaden the ACT’s economic base; encourage IT and high-tech industries; work for national standardisation of payroll tax; promote Canberra as a centre for eco-tourism; and make government contracts smaller to give local businesses a chance to compete.

“We will reduce the administrative burden on businesses and make information easy and accessible.” said Mr Churchill

“Canberra’s planning should retain green belts between town centres, and promote transport efficiency and vibrant commercial centres. We need a planning authority that people have confidence in.”

For Planning, the Democrats will involve communities in the planning process’ work towards development that leads to a sustainable Canberra; and make planning decisions independent and transparent.

“We will introduce sensible zoning laws that ensue new developments fit with the existing character of the neighbourhood and prevent ‘opportunistic profiteering!” Mr Churchill announced.

The ACT Democrats want an business environment that is attractive and prosperous. And sensible, sustainable planning for our city.” Mr Churchill concluded.

Darren Churchill
ACT Democrats President
Candidate for Ginninderra
darren.churchill@act.democrats.org.au
Tel: 0412 196 473

Darren Churchill’s short speech and comments to Gungahlin Community Council, Meet the Candidates Event, 08 October, 2008.

13/10/2008

Darren Churchill’s short speech and comments to Gungahlin Community Council, Meet the Candidates Event, 08 October, 2008.

Introductory 1 minute speech:

G’day!

I’m Darren Churchill. I’m the president of the ACT Democrats; “Ungrouped” candidate for Giinninderra. I’m a registered relief teacher. I’ve worked over at the Gold Creek School in wonderful Nicholls. I also work at one of the gyms here in Gungahlin as a Group Fitness Instructor.

I want to work for better education, better transport, a better health system that keeps it’s professionals in the system. I want to restore accountability to the Assembly to make an effective cross-bench. That regardless of which side wins in the next Election, that we have an independent cross-bench where someone is there from the Democrats to “keep the bastards honest’ a job which we do so well.

Thank you.

Housing:

We believe that every Australian deserves safe, clean, well maintained housing. The ACT Democrats believe in a strong public housing programme and an increase in crisis and emergency accommodation.

On the issue of affordable housing for purchasers, the ACT Democrats believe that it is the role of government to ensure that the land is used for all Canberrans not just for developers. So, we will abolish Stamp Duty for first home buyers, increasing their buying power relative to existing landowners. And ensure that existing development precincts include attractable low-cost housing, suitable for first home buyers. We also support multi-unit developments in a sensible measure in Town Centres where they blend in with existing development.

Decentralisation:

Yes, I agree with the idea of decentralising ACT Governments to Gungahlin. That will help get the workforce base here that creates rhe demand for private-sector businesses to come here to provide the needs for people.

Banning of Donations over $200:

No. The big parties would just find a way around it anyway. All donations should be on the public record.

Aged Care:

Look, I think we need to do something whereby Disability Services can come out and fit homes with rails, ramps and the other facilities for people as they age. I also think with aged accommodation, it’s not just enough to build the accommodation, it also needs to be adequately serviced – and access to medical services, support services and those sort of things as well. And for people staying in private homes, as they age, access to community nursing.

Traffic congestion:

Look, the simplest and most sensible way to ease traffic congestion is to improve the public transport system. And what we need is an overarching transport system that includes decent public transport, sensibly planned roads, a light rail network. And that will ease the congestion and get things happening again.

Thanks.

A Speech by, Darren Churchill, candidate for Ginninderra to launch the ACT Democrats Mental Health Policy at the Mental Health Week Community Forum, 12.30pm, 08 October, 2008.

12/10/2008

A Speech by, Darren Churchill, candidate for Ginninderra to launch the ACT Democrats Mental Health Policy at the Mental Health Week Community Forum, 12.30pm, 08 October, 2008.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m Darren Churchill, president of the ACT Democrats and Ungrouped candidate for Ginninderra.

The ACT Democrats recognise that demand for mental health services in the ACT is increasing. We understand that good mental health is just as important for the ACT community as good physical health. We support increased resources for preventative programmes and early intervention to prevent chronic mental health problems developing.

People with mental illness remain among the most disadvantaged, neglected and marginalised people in Australia. Up to 1 in 4 Australians will suffer from a mental illness during their lifetime. Many of us here today may have suffered mental illness or had a friend, family member or even party colleague who has suffered a mental illness, especially depression.

Mental health problems have a profound effect on the physical, emotional, social and financial well being of people with mental illness, as well as their family and friends. Mental health issues also have multiple effects on our community, including higher absenteeism at work, more personal stress and unhappiness, and a more fragmented community. Mental health concerns need to be brought into the public spotlight, with more resources and attention paid to preventing future deterioration in the mental health of the Canberra community.

The best way to prevent mental illness from becoming chronic is to provide intensive support for people living with a mental illness at the first onset of problems, so further mental deterioration is prevented and people are assisted to become well and stay well into the future. More subsidised counselling needs to be made available.
.
We recognise that stable housing is essential to maintaining good mental health, and support the priority allocation of public housing with support for people who have experienced mental illness.

The ACT Democrats have a good record of achievement on mental health. In the 5th Assembly, the Democrats successfully moved a motion calling on the ACT Government to increase the number of mental health outreach workers. We also successfully moved a motion in that Assembly that uniformed police officers and marked cars should not be used to escort mentally ill people to hospital for assessment. We have always campaigned strongly for greater resources for suicide prevention, including raising the media profile and giving talks on the issue.

The ACT Democrats want more spending on community education about mental illness, to reduce the discrimination experienced by people with mental health issues. We support a greater range of treatment options, including more supported settings outside hospital, and better access to subsidised counselling to complement drug therapy.

The ACT Democrats support additional suicide prevention programs to reduce the ACT suicide rate, which is still alarmingly high. The ACT Democrats believe that more can be done to increase employment of people with mental illnesses, particularly by opening up access to ACT public sector positions.

The ACT Democrats support school-based programmes that help young people learn about mental illness, and about strategies to maintain a positive and stable outlook. We support education about the link between illicit drug use and potential mental illness, so young people better understand the risks to themselves and their friends.

The Rate of Youth Suicide in the ACT has risen drastically in the past two decades. The ACT Democrats believe that suicide prevention programmes and adolescent mental health services need an immediate injection of funds, and that we need an adolescent in-patient facility for young people. Having one Calvary Hospital was suggested by one of the earlier speakers – and we would support that.

The ACT Democrats recognise that one of the biggest hurdles to improving identification and treatment of mental illness is removing the stigma attached to having a mental illness. The ACT Democrats believe that mental illness is like any other illness, and this idea needs to be promoted more widely throughout the community. People and families should not feel ashamed of mental health problems, nor feel that they have to hide their problems, as this reduces the likelihood of seeking and continuing appropriate treatment.

The ACT Democrats believe that more needs to be done to educate professionals and the public about mental illness. The Democrats advocate additional programmes to inform professionals about mental health issues, in particular health professionals, police officers, educators and employers. We support an increase in wider public education campaigns such as Mental Health Weeks and awareness raising initiatives to increase public awareness and understanding of mental health problems in our community.

The ACT Democrats continue to be concerned about people with mental illnesses getting caught up in the court system, when the acts they were arrested for were done as a result of their illness. We need to look at how we determine whether or not a person is well enough to face trial and determine fitness to plead. This was also mentioned by one of the earlier speakers and we share their concerns.

We believe that the treatment of mentally ill people who come into contact with the police and judicial system can be considerably improved. Our police do a great job but the Democrats believe that police officers should receive special training to work with people with mental illnesses, so they better deal with transporting or assisting people who are acutely ill. There was a story on Stateline last Friday night that raised concerns about this very matter. I’m sure there are some people here today who may have seen that particular story. We believe that Police transporting people for assessment should not be uniformed and should be using unmarked cars.

The ACT Democrats recognise that patients respond differently to treatment for mental health problems, and that the ACT Government has a responsibility to provide a range of treatment options in order to ensure each individual is catered for. More attention needs to be paid to the variety of mental illnesses that need to be catered for, including personality disorder. The ACT Democrats believe a wider range of supportive environments needs to be provided to assist in recovery. In addition to hospital care and long-term care, suitable short and medium-term accommodation with appropriate support is required.

The Democrats recognise the role of carers, and will work to ensure that carers are appropriately consulted and involved in patient care and are given support where they are assisting in treatment.

The ACT Democrats call for additional resources for dual diagnosis and dual disability services. The Democrats recognise that some mental health conditions may have considerable overlap with substance abuse, and diagnosis and treatment must address both issues simultaneously. Similarly, Governments need to recognise the existence of dual disabilities, and provide adequate information and resources to
address these needs.

We recognise the work of Mental Health professionals, especially community organisations that provide counselling, such as the Salvation Army, Centacare and Community Centres. There is a great need for extra services to cope with the demand.

Access to Mental Health support services is just as important inside the new ACT prison as in the wider community (in some ways even more important). These services also include access to mental health professionals, improving access to treatment (medication and counselling), and suicide prevention.

The Democrats also recognise that turnover amongst Mental Health professionals is extremely high. People can burn out pretty quickly. Retention is higher when the organisation provides clinical supervision and good opportunities for professional development and we will support and encourage this and would like to see greater resources directed towards such ends.

The ACT Democrats Mental Health Policy will be available on our website http://www.act.democrats.org.au within the next twenty-four hours. I invite you to have a look at it.

Thank you.

(This is the a version of a speech given by Darren Churchill to launch ACT Democrats Mental Health Policy at the Mental Health Week Community Forum. It may vary from the actual presentation, which was given largely from notes and varied to fit in with time constraints).