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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 22 November 2007) . . Page.. 3696 ..


Title read by Clerk.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Minister for Health, Minister for Children and Young People, Minister for Disability and Community Services, Minister for Women) (10.52): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The objective of the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Amendment Bill 2007 is to make technical amendments to the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Act 1994 that will better express the intention of the act in several sections where some confusion as to the intention has arisen.

The title of section 5 of the act currently reads “Persons not to be regarded as mentally dysfunctional”. While the 1994 explanatory memorandum for the act makes it clear that “mental dysfunction” is defined to include “mental illnesses” and hence technically “mental illness” is encompassed in the section, the intention is not clearly expressed in the wording of the act.

Clauses 6 and 7 of the amendment bill remove any doubt that section 5 applies to persons who are mentally ill. I propose that the section 5 heading and the first paragraph be amended to read “Persons not to be regarded as mentally dysfunctional or mentally ill”. This clarifies the intent of the section.

Clauses 8 to 14 address the intention of the act to provide for ministerial agreements to be made between the ACT and other states and territories regarding the interstate application of mental health laws.

On 18 November 2003, the then minister for health for the ACT, Mr Corbell, and the New South Wales minister for health, Mr Iemma, signed the ACT-NSW ministerial interstate mental health agreement. The agreement enables various parts of the ACT and New South Wales mental health acts to operate across the border, particularly to allow the transfer of people on involuntary orders back to their home areas or for transfers to inpatient facilities for specific treatments not available where they live. The agreement is intended to give effect to part 5A, “Interstate application of mental health laws”, of the act.

The agreement with New South Wales also allows for a person subject to an involuntary mental health community order and living in one jurisdiction who moves to the other jurisdiction to be followed up by the mental health service of their state of origin. For example, a person on an ACT psychiatric treatment order and living in Canberra who decides to move to reside in Queanbeyan can be followed up in Queanbeyan by ACT mental health staff while the transfer of the mental health care to New South Wales mental health services is finalised.

Generally, mental health services would provide mental health treatment and care across the border for a person on a community-based mental health order to provide continuity of care while negotiating the transfer of care to the local mental health


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