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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 1653 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

This whole discussion about how this concept of de-institutionalisation has been used to justify inadequate services and cost-cutting comes up over and over again.

One constituent I spoke to recently told me about her son who has recently returned from Kenmore. She is no longer able to care for him; she is extremely fearful for his welfare; and she is very desperate. Hennessy House would be appropriate but, she has been told, there is no room and there is a waiting list. I can tell you that she is not too impressed to hear that the Chief Minister believes this facility is an institution, and therefore is inappropriate. "What is appropriate"-this mother asks-"to be homeless, to be in a refuge, to be in gaol, to be admitted to hospital in crisis because the support was not there?" The attempt to use de-institutionalisation in this way followed a series of similar attempts to misuse important concepts during the debate on group houses.

That is from 1997. I note with great regret that the discussion we are still having today is still about the appropriate place to put people. When we talk about facilities, I want us to also consider the quality of facilities, their stability and the process of feedback for ensuring quality care.

The Canberra Schizophrenia Fellowship's proposals for a time-out facility and for a separate special purpose forensic treatment facility have recently been championed by Mr Smyth in a slightly confused manner-which just came across in Mr Stanhope's response. I think the suggestion from the Canberra Schizophrenia Fellowship has been misunderstood.

There is an urgent need to deal with overcrowding in the Belconnen Remand Centre. Making this overflow facility a special purpose forensic mental health facility would be one way to relieve the pressure on that facility-and the additional pressure on the people remanded there and the staff-while simultaneously improving the way people with a mental illness are provided for in our community.

It sounds an interesting proposal, but that is different to the time-out facility that has been proposed. The time-out facility proposed is for a safe, supportive, secure facility capable of handling short-term, non-voluntary admission for treatment and counselling. The proposal is for a focus on dual diagnosis clients who are having a substance abuse related crisis-mainly because the psych services do not accept people in this situation. This would provide somewhere for people to go short term, somewhere for the Mental Health Tribunal and magistrates to refer people to and some respite for the families.

That is how I understand the proposal from the Schizophrenia Fellowship. Respite was a recommendation also of the Social Policy Committee in 1997, and we had another whole inquiry in the last Assembly on respite.

There is also a bit of confusion about the role of the recently re-opened Hennessy House. It is not a forensic mental health facility. That is, it is not intended to be used as part of the corrections system. One of the first people to be admitted to Hennessy mark 2 was someone who had been kept in Belconnen Remand Centre because there was nowhere else for him to go. But, as I pointed out, these ideas for specific purpose correctional facilities for mental health are not new.

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