Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 12 Hansard (30 October) . .
MRS JONES (Molonglo) (11.50): Regarding the amendments, the opposition will support them, particularly in regard to the changes being made to give a more detailed explanation in some cases, particularly in regard to community care orders, forensic mental health orders and involuntary detention, and which, obviously, it is very important that we get right.
The bill has taken a seven-year period to prepare and there are many amendments—50 or so. The opposition reflect that we often are sitting here dealing with a large number of amendments. However, we do agree that it is very important to get the situation right.
Whilst dealing with the amendments, I would like also to clarify some of the statements made earlier in the debate. Dr Bourke came into this place and made unhelpful statements, suggesting that I had suggested we do away with patient confidentiality. He does a disservice to his own party by making such ridiculous suggestions. I think that carers' needs should be maximally dealt with, not that patient privacy be done away with.
There is a vast difference between a system that is open to the maximum extent possible and using systems of privacy and human rights to keep people out of the system. As the Chief Minister explained in her statement, this is something that we have to continue to try and work on, even if it is through the process of policy and procedures. It is a known problem in the system. The government have chosen not to deal with it through legislation, which is their prerogative. However, it is a known issue that needs to be addressed over time.
Regarding Minister Rattenbury's comments earlier in the debate, I did not claim that seven years was wrong; I asked why seven years was reasonable. And it is an extraordinary period. We were not left with a choice between a rushed bill with no consultation versus a seven-year period, and it is an oversimplification for Minister Rattenbury to suggest that that is the only dichotomy that the government faced. It also could have perhaps been done in three or four years and that would not have constituted a rush.
This bill, with its amendments, is long awaited and gives clarity to a number of areas regarding how we as a community best manage, in particular, severe mental health concerns. The bill, with amendments, does make some significant improvements. But in relation to carers, I maintain that it does not go far enough. Carers are a vast group of family members and loved ones of people in our community who suffer severe mental illness as well as other health concerns.
The bill, with amendments, also sets up a framework for the transfer of inmates from our correctional facilities to the secure mental health facility when it is built. I acknowledge that the Chief Minister has explained that there will be another bill, to continue to set up the system for this to occur.
I will wait and see whether such a move is practically workable when health staff are therapeutically trained, not correctionally or justice trained. While we do not want people with a mental illness to fill our corrections facilities, as it is not necessarily the
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