Page 860 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 18 March 2015

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Take the issue of mental health. I have said very clearly since my appointment as health minister that the area of mental health is a significant priority for me. I am therefore pleased that in the last budget this Labor government announced growth funding for the mental health services community sector, some of the most vulnerable people in our community. The government has funded a community forensic mental health initiative, providing for short-term psychosocial support to people with a mental illness who are also involved in the justice system. This program is called the detention exit community outreach support program, and it commenced operation in March last year.

The program provides up to three months intensive transitional support for individuals who have been diagnosed with a mental illness and who are engaged in the justice system. There is a priority for people with a mental illness who are exiting the youth justice or corrections detention. The model ensures a continuum of care for people through a seamless case management partnership between ACT Health Forensic Mental Health Services and the Mental Illness Fellowship of Victoria.

In question time I mentioned the development of our new mental health legislation. This amended act comes into force in November this year. The act empowers people with mental illness to be involved in determining their own treatment. Mechanisms to achieve this include considering the person’s decision-making capacity and ensuring support for decision making, the opportunity to identify a nominated person to represent their views and preferences, and provisions to recognise consent directions made in advance about their treatment. These are all good examples of how we include vulnerable people when it comes to decisions that affect their own lives. It is a great example of social inclusion.

The ACT mental health framework will be a strategic whole-of-government and whole-of-community document. This document is to set a strategic direction for promoting mental health for all of our community for the next 10 years. It will supersede the existing Building a strong foundation—a framework for promoting mental health and wellbeing in the ACT and the associated suicide prevention strategy. Following the development of the framework, each directorate within the ACT government will be responsible for elements of its implementation. Following initial feedback from the community, further detailed work is being undertaken, and it is planned that the framework will be presented to the government for consideration before the end of this year.

Providing better support for step-up, step-down services is also important in the area of social inclusion. A program for short-term intensive community psychosocial supports will commence this year, enhancing existing mental health services. The initiative provides alternative early intervention options to hospital admission and more discharge options for supporting people with mental illness. These programs provide the least restrictive intervention for people with mental illnesses, in line with the government’s policy. Consistent with our approach to engaging stakeholders across the community, it will be a partnership model between the Division of Mental Health, Justice Health, the Alcohol and Drug Service and Woden Community Services and will focus on the Belconnen and Gungahlin town centres of Canberra.

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