Page 4187 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 26 November 2013

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Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Sitting suspended from 11.27 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice

Health—secure mental health unit

MR HANSON: My question is to the Minister for Health. Today the ACT’s Public Advocate said she fears the territory’s long-awaited secure mental health unit will fail because too many different types of patients will be held in the one facility. She says the range of patients the government hoped to accommodate in the facility is “quite extreme” and “inappropriate”. She says she fears the facility could become an institution. She further says the territory needs separate, smaller facilities for different types of patients in need of secure mental health care. Minister, what is your response to the Public Advocate’s criticism of the secure mental health facility?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question and indeed for his ongoing interest in the secure mental health facility. Extensive work has been done, as the Leader of the Opposition would be aware, to review the numbers of beds in the secure facility. The reviews have been done by experts, including, I think, forensic care in New South Wales. New South Wales Health Infrastructure did a review of the infrastructure. And other expert opinion that has been sought during the last two years has raised concerns around the smallness of the facility as it is. The expert advice is that certainly at 15 beds it was going to be very, very difficult. At between 10 and 15 beds, it would be very difficult to staff. Certainly you could not go smaller than that, and that is a reason why we have co-located the medium and the high secure beds together—to create a greater capacity to provide the level of care that is needed.

Whilst—and I said this on the radio this morning—I understand the Public Advocate’s interest in advocating for individual need, it is simply not practical to look at four or five different buildings to support the needs of four or five different population groups. And it actually flies in the face of all the information the government has, which I am more than happy to share, around the need to focus on workforce development and ensuring positive workforce culture. Both of those things are difficult in smaller units. I classify—and I think the reviews have classified—25 as a small unit.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Hanson.

MR HANSON: Minister, have the delays and budget blowouts contributed to a compromised model of care?

MS GALLAGHER: No. I stopped the project a couple of years ago because of the increase in the infrastructure costs, but as part of that we took the opportunity to review the service provision that would operate within that infrastructure. Indeed the

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