Page 4103 - Week 13 - Thursday, 6 December 2007

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MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Minister for Health, Minister for Children and Young People, Minister for Disability and Community Services, Minister for Women) (5.05): Mr Pratt, I can respond to that. I understand that my office has had discussions about this, so it should not be a surprise to people. The review that we are talking about started in May, as a result of a motion moved in the Assembly. I received that review last week. I had some questions about the review which meant I could not take it to cabinet on Monday for approval to be considered in this sitting week. I spoke to Dr Foskey, who had moved the motion, to let her know that I was seeking a delay. I will provide it to the Assembly at the earliest opportunity, once those questions have been answered.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.06): I do not believe there is a need for a great deal of discussion about this. People will remember that they supported the motion that I moved in May. Yes, it is disappointing that the review was not done, but I am pleased to hear that the review documents have gone to the minister. I was told by a staff member in Ms Gallagher’s office that there is a good chance that it will be delivered well before March but that this motion is just to cover all the eventualities. I am grateful that I was consulted about this. While I do not think there is much I can do apart from accepting it, I also feel that the review is too important to quibble about a month or two, given that a great deal would not be done to implement it before February or so, anyway.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Amendment Bill 2007

Debate resumed from 22 November, on motion by Ms Gallagher:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (5.07): The opposition will be supporting the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Amendment Bill 2007. Mrs Burke is absent this afternoon, so I will read her speech for her. The bill makes some minor technical amendments to clauses in the 1994 act where some confusion as to definition has arisen. The original act drew from definitions from the old ordinance, which included all mental disorders. As a result of the amendments, the intention of the act will be better expressed.

The new amendments are designed to make the act more inclusive and easily understood by both carers and consumers. Whilst in the explanatory notes of 1994 it states that “mental dysfunction” is defined to include “mental illness”, the intention is not made clear in the act itself. Clauses 6 and 7 will therefore remove any doubt that section 5 applies to persons who are “mentally ill”. The heading will now read “persons not to be regarded as mentally dysfunctional or mentally ill”. These changes make it clear that people cannot be considered mentally ill or mentally dysfunctional merely on a whim, such as because of their political, religious or philosophical beliefs, or because of other limits set out in section 5 of the act.

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