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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (22 April) . . Page.. 1131 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

I want to clearly put on the record that the Government is receptive to changes to what is proposed here. If there are major concerns about the proposed amendments, we are fully prepared [to address the concerns].

As evidence of that commitment, today the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) (Amendment) Bill 1998 was withdrawn and I presented the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) (Amendment) Bill 1999. In fact, Mr Humphries moved the motion to withdraw the 1998 Bill.

This Bill, based on the 1998 Bill, includes a number of amendments which have been made in response to recommendations from a wide range of stakeholders. The Bill furthers the human rights protections for people subject to the Act, as well as providing new mental health orders which more appropriately reflect a person's diagnosis. The major changes from the 1998 Bill which have been included in the 1999 Bill are the removal of preventive detention provisions; the maintenance of the role and structure of the Mental Health Tribunal; clarification of the powers of custodians in relation to mental health orders; the separation of orders for mentally ill and mentally dysfunctional persons, to provide treatments and outcomes appropriate to a person's condition; clarification of the provisions in relation to emergency apprehension by the police; and inclusion of a provision which requires consultation by the tribunal with a child's parents where a child is subject to a Mental Health Tribunal inquiry.

Mr Speaker, although the lengthy process we have followed has brought about widespread agreement on this legislation, there are some disappointments to the Government. In removing the preventive detention provisions, the Government is concerned that the community will be denied access to a last resort where a person who is likely to cause harm to others cannot be detained under the provisions for involuntary treatment or care.

Similarly, with the proposed changes to the Mental Health tribunal being removed as a result of the consultation process, we are concerned that the tribunal may be seen as reaching decisions based on communications between members of the tribunal which are not available to the person subject to a tribunal hearing, which would be contrary to natural justice principles and prejudicial to the interests of the person who is the subject of the hearing. However, I am encouraged by the assurance of the tribunal that all deliberations in relation to a person subject to a hearing by the tribunal are, and will continue to be, undertaken in front of the person subject to a hearing and any representatives of that person.

Many of the other changes arising from the consultative process have been welcomed by the Government. The Bill still provides for increased safeguards for individuals subject to involuntary treatment or care through the provision of an official visitors scheme for mental health facilities; increased rights for people subject to emergency detention which allow them to inform a relative or friend of their detention; the requirement for consumers and carers to be involved in policy development, evaluation of services and services planning; the requirement that people be discharged from involuntary orders, in most cases, as soon as the criteria for involuntary detention are no longer met; the

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