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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4421..

MR STANHOPE: I seek leave to make a statement.

Leave granted.

MR STANHOPE: In May 2002, I announced a three-pronged approach to comprehensively deal with some critical problems affecting mental health services in the ACT and set a path for reform.

First, I asked the ACT Community and Health Services Complaints Commissioner, Mr Ken Patterson, to investigate the accessibility and standard of acute mental health services and the adequacy of follow-up care. Second, I directed ACT Health to conduct a review into the safety and quality of the processes of mental health service delivery. Third, I directed ACT Health to ensure that funds and resources would be set aside for the development of a new strategic plan for mental health in the ACT.

At the same time, my government's reform of governance arrangements in the health portfolio led to the implementation of the new mental health screen service arrangements made possible with the abolition of the purchaser/provider system. I will touch on all aspects of this reform process today, but my main focus is to present to members the ministerially commissioned risk report, prepared by the health complaints commissioner, entitled Investigation into risk of harm to clients of mental health services.

In compiling this independent risk report, the complaints commissioner gathered data and contributions from expert clinical advisers, consumers, carers, families and other members of the community. He also consulted with service providers, the coroner's office and the Australian Federal Police.

This is the first time a report of such breadth and candour has been commissioned by an ACT minister into publicly provided mental health services. The commissioning and tabling of this report is a demonstration not only of the government's commitment to openness but also of its responsiveness and pro-active approach to addressing community concerns about mental health services in the ACT.

There is a risk associated with releasing this report, which offers constructive criticism of the current system, that, if the community, consumers and carers are concerned about the quality of mental health services, they will use them only reluctantly. The last thing anybody wishes to do is deter people needing help from seeking it.

It should also be acknowledged that consumers and carers have been very generous in describing their experiences, and it is the responsibility of the community to treat the information contained in this report with respect. The report contains 58 recommendations covering all aspects of treatment and care. The government has developed a preliminary response to the recommendations, which has been tabled with the report. The response outlines the work already put in place to address the recommendations made by the commissioner.

Further work to address all recommendations in the report is under way, with Mental Health ACT actively working with consumers, carers and other stakeholders to address these remaining issues. I now undertake to provide the Assembly with a progress report,

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