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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 2 Hansard (8 March) . . Page.. 507..


MRS DUNNE (continuing):

This court applies the principles of therapeutic jurisprudence, dealing with health issues that lead to criminal behaviour. Instead of making a finding of guilty or not guilty, the court takes an active role in securing the treatment and services needed to break the nexus between mental illness and crime. It deals with people whose intellectual mental functioning is impaired, whether through mental illness, personality disorder, intellectual disability, acquired brain disorder or neurological disorder such as dementia. It handles summary offences and some minor indictable offences such as shoplifting, property damage and even assault causing actual bodily harm.

When a matter is transferred to the court, the charges are put aside. The defendant does not have to enter a plea, provided there is consensus about the events leading up to the charges. Defendants are put on court-monitored treatment programs which may include counselling and medication and sometimes assistance with housing and other basic living arrangements. Defendants are required to return to the court at regular intervals to report their progress.

This is really holistic treatment for those who are mentally ill. Surely this is a better way to deal with the problems of people who have already had quite enough problems themselves, while keeping the community secure and ensuring the community is sure enough in itself that it can show enlightened compassion to the most vulnerable or disadvantaged members of the community.

In short, if we are serious about regarding mental health as a matter of such national significance as to have it put on the COAG agenda, we must first have the courage to learn from the unintended consequences of what might seem to have been the humane policy of de-institutionalisation, a policy which we know has not worked. It is morally and economically a complete failure. We must go beyond the usual platitudes to implement real change in the two most obvious areas of public policy affecting people with mental disorders: in the hospitals and in the judicial system.

International Women's Day

Union picnic day

Policing-response times

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (6.09): I briefly touch on the fact that today is International Women's Day. I attended a breakfast this morning which was attended by several hundred women, notably numbers of young women from high schools and colleges who were able to attend, which was very pleasing. Also, I spoke at a lunch organised by ABS at lunchtime to celebrate International Women's Day.

However, on Monday I attended the 2006 annual ACT union picnic day. It was fantastic to go and meet so many workers and their families. I understand there were about 1,500 to 1,700 people there. You were there, Mr Speaker, as were Ms MacDonald and Mr Gentleman and many of our colleagues. There were lots of families, lots of young children, I noticed, with their parents taking advantage of this wonderful day.

This was the 66th year that the picnic day has been celebrated. Unfortunately, due to the Howard government's so-called WorkChoices changes, it may be the last. The Howard government have repeatedly stated that they, through this legislation, were not trying to


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