Page 3305 - Week 10 - Friday, 26 August 2005

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Too often we do not care about things until somehow or other it touches our personal lives. That is so true. I do not know how many people here have had experience of mental illness in their family or in other ways that gives them some insight into the insecurities that these people feel, the sense of having other people in control of their life. That is at the heart, I believe, of the fear that people have about this bill. I am not going to go into all the arguments about ECT and so on. As I said, I am not an expert. But what I do know is that there are a number of issues that need to be explored.

Involuntary administration of ECT is just one way of dealing with people with a mental health crisis. There are a lot of other ways that we have not even considered today. These matters need to be put before a committee. I have many concerns about the crisis teams, their response times and the appropriateness of their response. There is a lack of access to the PSU. There are a lot of other models for dealing with people in crisis that we are not even considering here. The need for a time-out facility comes up over and over again. We need to consider involuntary administration of ECT within the gamut of myths that exist in this area.

I do not believe that Mr Corbell adequately addressed my concerns. We know that the public advocate will be involved, but we still wonder how the public advocate can be involved on weekends and public holidays. We all know these are the times when crises are most likely to occur and when services are least available.

I will be looking into advanced agreements. I was very interested to see that there is a project under way. But I feel that we should be actively encouraging people to make these advanced agreements, not just inquiring if they have. How many people, especially people with a mental illness, are so organised that they have arranged all these things? Have they written a will? Have they assigned power of attorney? People need help. We are talking about people with the most chaotic of lives. I was glad to see yesterday the passing of a bill that recognises a power of attorney established in another state. There are people coming into the ACT from elsewhere. That is good. That means we can listen to them and treat them. Often that is a characteristic of people with a mental illness, that they are actually quite well known to service providers in several places. We have to look at how we can make sure that those service providers have all the information. There are a lot of issues there, but we need to explore them.

Finally, Mr Corbell criticised me for not mentioning this earlier on. I believe that we started discussions on this a couple of days ago, although perhaps not with you, Mr Corbell.

Mr Corbell: I am the responsible minister. So you have not told me.

DR FOSKEY: I discussed this with the chair of the committee. We have been searching for the best way to deal with this bill. We have been taking expert advice. We have listened respectfully to health department officials and to the chief psychiatrist. We understand the issues that you are trying to address. We are just not sure that this bill is going to address them. Therefore I commend my motion to you.

MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (10.05): I would like to say at the outset that, as chair of the health and disability committee, I do not support this bill being referred to the

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