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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 12 Hansard (28 October) . .

Page.. 3658..


and potentially divisive issue and is subject to considerations regarding a number of human rights and principles of justice and due process.

Yet in many meetings with stakeholders that my office and I have had over the past few months, and indeed years, I have not heard anything that would indicate that those with expertise in their fields have any significant concerns with this bill that have not been answered or at least explained to them by ACT Health in a way that addresses their questions and concerns.

An area of importance that I would specifically like to comment on is advance consent and agreement making. The Greens are very supportive of the clear descriptions of advance statements in this bill. They are an important way for people to provide clear instructions as to their future care should they become unwell and, I believe, are reflective of recent similar legislative changes in Victoria.

The bill before us here in the ACT will allow for a person with a mental disorder or mental illness who has decision-making capacity to enter into an advance agreement with the person's treating team that sets out information the person considers relevant to their treatment, care or support for the mental disorder or mental illness, but not information more appropriate to include in an advance consent direction, and any preferences the person has in relation to practical help the person may need as a result of the mental disorder or mental illness.

As Minister for Corrective Services, I would also like to mention that ACT Corrective Services have been extensively consulted concerning the development of the new legislation and have appreciated the collaborative approach. The detainee population experiences disproportionate levels of mental health problems, as well as issues with cognitive impairment. This almost certainly contributes to individuals being incarcerated.

One of the findings of a 2010 ACT inmate health survey was that 70 per cent of detainees who participated in the survey claimed to have had a formal psychiatric assessment at some point in their lives. ACT Corrective Services considers there are likely benefits for both corrections and ACT Health, as well as for detainee clients, in the proposed legislation clarifying issues of custodial responsibility for detainees who become patients of ACT Health for mandated mental health treatment. In particular, when a detainee is transferred to ACT Health facilities for mandatory treatment, this will be done formally under the new act and will provide certainty that the detainee is a health patient in the legal custody of ACT Health. This legal provision regarding the transfer of custody, while an inherent part of the proposed changes, also addresses concerns raised by the Health Services Commissioner in the investigation she finalised earlier this year.

The bill includes a number of mechanisms to improve the way the mental health system and Corrective Services can work together in the interests of people living with a mental illness or mental disorder and who are also incarcerated. These mechanisms include improved information-sharing arrangements across the justice and health systems and improved oversight by the ACT administrative tribunal for people on forensic mental health orders.


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