I donated my Lord Mayoral fees for the period 5 April 2004 to 30 June 2004 to the Come In Youth Resource Centre, Paddington, providing the first of many grants that will honour my election commitment not to accept the Lord Mayoral salary.
As MP for Bligh I have long been aware of Come In Centre's vital work in helping disadvantaged young people and young people at risk. For over 25 years the Centre has provided therapy, counselling, advocacy and practical assistance for young people living in or moving through the inner city.
The Come In Centre received $29,794.78 from the donation of my Lord Mayoral fees. These funds helped the Come In Centre to expand two much-needed projects
The first is its Young Mother's Program. This program aims to provide intensive assistance to young mothers with infant children who have experienced homelessness. It aims to prevent homelessness being repeated in subsequent generations. It receives no government support.
The additional funds enabled The Come In Centre to adapt this program to target a hard-to-reach, and sometimes resistant, group of young mothers.
The other program is the Jonah Project. This program tackles dual diagnosis, one of the most difficult challenges facing our increasingly specialised health system. It arises when a person has both mental health and substance abuse problems. Because our health system is geared to treat these problems separately, many people with dual diagnosis do not get the help they need, leaving them at high risk of self-harm, suicide, homelessness and imprisonment.
The Jonah Project provides long term housing, counselling, practical assistance, and other support required to assist young people with dual diagnosis to maintain a drug free existence and long term stability within the community.
The extra funding helped the Come In Centre to increase the number of spaces available in this program. It also helped the Centre to demonstrate to the Government the importance of programs like this.
In Parliament I have called on the Government to implement a dual diagnosis strategy. We need to train all mental health and drug and alcohol workers in dual diagnosis, provide regional specialists to support clinical staff and establish a specialist dual diagnosis service for very complex situations.
The Jonah Project demonstrates what can and must be done.