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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 8 Hansard (30 June) . . Page.. 2504..


Title read by Clerk.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra-Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (10.40): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I seek leave to have my in-principle speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The incorporated document appears at attachment 1 on page 2642.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Amendment Bill 2005

Mr Corbell , pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo-Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (10.41): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I have today presented the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Amendment Bill 2005. Over the last three years it has become apparent that the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Act 1994 is not able to respond quickly enough for a very small number of people who have a serious mental illness, are incapable of consenting to appropriate treatment and require electroconvulsive therapy in order to save their lives. The limitation is that the act requires that three days must elapse before the Mental Health Tribunal can hold an inquiry.

This notification is important so the person, their agent or legal representative, the Community Advocate and others can be notified of tribunal proceedings. However, advice from the chief psychiatrist over the last three years has indicated that the delay associated with this notification period has put the lives of a small number of patients at risk. While in cases of extreme depression medical literature indicates that administration of ECT is the most effective treatment, electroconvulsive therapy is a controversial topic in the community; so the amendment contains strong safeguards for the human rights of the person. This bill has been presented after a comprehensive public consultation process. During this process a wide variety of opinions were expressed, from strong support to strong condemnation of the proposed amendments.

I have presented a bill today that provides an allowance for involuntary and emergency electroconvulsive therapy only to save a person's life. The full bench of the Mental Health Tribunal will hear the matter, giving the president of the tribunal the expertise and


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