Government Business Program: Business of the House – 2 March 2021

Ms ADDISON (Wendouree) (15:32): It is an absolute pleasure to join the government business program debate again and to have such an agreeable opposition. It is always so welcomed when the member for Rowville and the member for Gippsland South are so agreeable. This is what we know them to be, and sometimes they actually are, so thank you very much.

As has been mentioned, this is a very important week again this sitting week as we are getting on with governing for the whole of Victoria. The three bills that we are debating are important bills that will deliver significant change and actually make Victoria a better and a fairer place, whether it be the Justice Legislation Amendment (System Enhancements and Other Matters) Bill 2021, the Planning and Environment Amendment Bill 2021 or the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment Bill 2020.

I am also very pleased that we have the notice of motion from the Minister for Mental Health regarding the opportunity for a take-note motion as well as the opportunity to speak on the budget. What a great budget it was in November, and I am really looking forward to having the opportunity to talk about how that budget is going to really deliver for the Ballarat region once again.

But today is such an important day, such a historic day, for the people of Victoria with the tabling of the final report into the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. We made the commitment back in 2018 to implement this royal commission, and that is exactly what we have done. It has been a very, very important two years of community consultation, expert advice and careful deliberation, and now we have a very clear road map towards rebuilding our entire mental health system from the ground up.

This has only been possible because of the great work of the commissioners, and I really want to thank them for their compassion and diligence throughout the last two years, as well as Professor McGorry as the chair of the expert panel.

In Victoria we have such amazing medical people in our community, and to have their expert advice on this important issue is very important. But we also need to acknowledge the 12 000 Victorians who shared their lived experiences to make the system better for others. It was an act of selflessness to improve the lives and outcomes for so many others. I am sure everyone in this place was very moved by the story of Amelia Morris that she shared today, as well as Al Gabb, who talked about his experience at the Ballarat Health Services.

That is very close to home for me, as a former board member of the Ballarat Health Services, that people have not received the care and support they have needed. That is what this royal commission was about—making sure that that does not happen anymore. So that is something that we are going to move forward with.

This royal commission, as we said, was announced in 2018, but a lot of work has been done over the last six years by the member for Albert Park, the former Minister for Mental Health. I really want to acknowledge his work to get us to this point as well as the stewardship of the new Minister for Mental Health and the great job he has done bringing this report to the Parliament. This is very, very good news. The fact that we are going to be embracing every recommendation will mean better outcomes for the people of Victoria and particularly the people of Ballarat, which I represent. I really welcomed when Commissioner Armytage said today that this is not about filling potholes, it is about building a new road.

Thank you very much for the opportunity just to make those few reflections. I welcome the opportunity to once again contribute to the government business program debate. I recommend it to the house. I thank the Leader of the House and the Manager of Opposition Business for their agreement on this and look forward to a very, very productive week in the Parliament.


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