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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (21 October) . . Page.. 4978..

Health—mental health crisis assessment and treatment team—Thursday, 23 September 2010

Ms GALLAGHER (in reply to a supplementary question by Mr Hanson): I am advised that the answer to the Member's question is:

If AFP assistance is required in a situation involving an individual with mental health concerns, then it would generally be the case that the situation is one in which there are heightened levels of concerns around personal safety for both the individual and/or others and a level of situation containment is required. This may include possible risk of violence or aggression, and/or cases where the individual is refusing mental health intervention that is urgently required. Consequently, in these cases it is expected that there is an increased risk that some level of force may be required, compared to those situations in which CATT attend without the requirement for AFP involvement.

Where AFP attend a situation without CATT, they must make their own judgments about the potential level of risk to officers, the individual and others and the need to use restraint or force to ensure safety. Their response is guided by Police training principles and not solely mental health protocols or considerations.

CATT will contact the AFP for assistance in transporting an individual to the Canberra Hospital for further psychiatric assessment where there are identified risks to safety for others or where an individual is refusing further assistance that is judged to be clinically imperative. It is often the case that CATT has had prior involvement with the individual in the days leading up to this decision being taken and is more familiar with their psychiatric history and general background. In these situations CATT will provide the AFP with both written and verbal information regarding the individual to assist the AFP in their interaction with the individual. This is different from situations involving the AFP alone, where the AFP may be called to an unpredicted event, such as a domestic disturbance, where the mental health concerns may not necessarily be evident at the time and without any background knowledge.

CATT is not in the position to use force or restraint to transport individuals involuntarily to hospital and the application of such force would place both clinicians and the individual at risk of injury. Furthermore, it is the experience of CATT clinicians that AFP use minimal force, if any, when transporting mental health consumers to hospital or generally engaging with them in the community. The presence of AFP itself, is often sufficient to de-escalate or contain potentially risky situations where issues of violence and aggression have been identified.

In September 2010 there were 63 occasions where Emergency Actions were initiated by AFP, without CATT or other Mental Health Officers necessarily being present. Of these 63 cases, there were 48 instances where no force was required by the AFP to transport the individual to the Canberra Hospital Emergency Department (TCH ED) for further psychiatric assessment. For the remaining 15 cases, AFP were required to use force ranging from minimal "escort holds"to the use of restraint (including handcuffing). For all of these 15 cases, the documentation reviewed suggests the individuals were either in possession of a weapon, engaging in aggressive or violent behaviour at the time, or actively resisting or non-compliant with the direction to attend hospital for further psychiatric assessment.

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