Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 24 September 2015) . . Page.. 3501 ..
a roof over his head and meals on the table. They buy his clothes and take him to medical appointments as needed. He has a house but because of his condition struggles to live there so he has moved back.
Yet when the son visits the psychiatrist they have no idea about any medication changes or what his future health care might look like. They just get to watch and wait as he may spiral into another episode that from time to time ends in hospitalisation. They send emails to their son’s psychiatrist and to the GP to let clinicians know about how he is coping and any changes to his behaviour in order to help those clinicians make the best medical decisions for their son. However, they never know if such material has even been read.
It is a slow and painful grind and they have no idea if it is being useful at all. They also claim that there is no communication between the psychiatrist and the allocated GP, which I believe is clearly expected. However such miscommunication or lack of communication can end in fatality if it is not carefully addressed, because medications suggested by a GP may conflict with medications that have been administered or suggested by a psychiatrist and the patient may not be aware of how those medications interact. So, while I am really pleased that there are changes being made in this legislative space and we are updating things, I am concerned there is a cultural problem in the area of carers’ information. I am very mindful that a cultural shift needs to take place.
The other general area I am deeply concerned about is the practical care of mixed clients in the yet to be completed secure mental health unit. I understand that this is not dealt with in this bill, and I wonder when it will be. It is unclear how forensic and non-forensic clients, as in detainees from the AMC and general members of the community, are going to coexist in the new facility, the secure mental health unit, and how the vulnerable will be protected.
We are yet to see a detailed plan on how male patients coming from the AMC will cohabit effectively alongside female patients from the broader community, for example; how vulnerable women will be managed; and how violent offenders may be managed. What will be the plan for dealing with prisoners who were unable to be housed together at the AMC but are now located together in an open plan facility such as the secure mental health unit? How will they be transferred safely?
The facility seems basically open plan, in two sections—one section for initial treatment and another section for preparation for re-release into the community or back to a facility. I do not see how these challenges will be overcome. I have real concerns about the human rights not just of prisoners but of those patients coming through the facility from the mainstream community. The plans that I have seen include the facility being divided into two areas, as I said—one for stabilisation and the other for preparing patients for discharge—and I am concerned that there are not enough options within the new planned facility for separation when required.
I am concerned about the safety and wellbeing of patients and of staff at this new facility. How supported will they be in managing a detainee or any patient suffering with violent psychosis? Will we see the problems with assaults on staff that we have