Page 771 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 8 April 2014

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Human Rights Commission report—government response

Paper and statement by minister

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Housing, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Minister for Ageing): For the information of members, I present the following paper:

Human Rights Commission Act, pursuant to section 87(2)—Investigation into the mechanical restraint of a prison detainee while being treated in a mental health facility—A report of the ACT Health Services Commissioner, dated 17 March 2014—Government response.

I seek leave to make a statement.

Leave granted.

MR RATTENBURY: Thank you, members. Today the Attorney-General has tabled the Health Services Commissioner’s report of an investigation into the mechanical restraint of a prison detainee while being treated in a mental health facility. I have now tabled the government’s response to that report, on behalf of the Minister for Health and myself, as ministers responsible for the operational areas.

I wish to start by thanking the Health Services Commissioner and her staff for their investigation and report. I also acknowledge the dedication and professionalism of the ACT government agencies involved—ACT Corrective Services, ACT Health and the ACT Ambulance Service.

The investigation concerned a detainee at the Alexander Maconochie Centre who had engaged in a serious episode of self-harm. The detainee was subsequently transferred to the adult mental health unit at the Canberra Hospital to receive treatment for five days under the lawful custody of ACT Corrective Services officers and the Corrections Management Act 2007. The detainee was concurrently detained under the emergency detention provisions of the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Act 1994.

During this period, the detainee was subject to mechanical restraint in the form of long chain cuffs or standard handcuffs, in addition to being under the constant guard of two ACT Corrective Services officers. This restraint was directed by senior ACT Corrective Services officers on the basis of the director-general delegated authority under the Corrections Management Act 2007.

The decision to restrain the detainee in this environment was not undertaken lightly. In making these decisions, consideration was given to a range of complex factors such as the physical environment of both the jail and the hospital built form, the detainee’s history, and the current risk of self-harm and harm to others.

The commissioner’s report highlights a difficult area of service provision and makes valuable recommendations. The government will be supporting seven of the report’s

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