Page 3503 - Week 11 - Thursday, 24 September 2015

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

minister in response to scrutiny’s report in clearing up a few matters and suggesting amendments.

At the risk of doing a disservice to the scope of the amendments before us, I will not speak to each clause and section. The issues have been well canvassed. The stakeholders have been well engaged, and I have not received any specific concerns with its contents from any of my constituents or from relevant stakeholders.

I note that the scrutiny committee raised a number of issues, which is to be expected on such a complex area of public policy, and the Minister for Health has responded. On these key points of difference the minister has provided substantive rationale for the bill’s amendments.

I am advised that this bill, similar to the previous Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Act, has general broad support amongst community stakeholders and advocates, noting that much of what is before us today is about clarifying expressions of the act and ensuring that the relevant oversight functions are also clear.

For example, chapter 6, section 39, provides for increased reporting in regard to actions undertaken in relation to the use of force or assistance provided by authorised persons, be they police, ambulance, paramedics or doctors. For another example, section 41A will require that if the person who is referred by the court is detained at a facility under section 38, the person in charge of the facility must notify the court of the reasons for that detention.

The revised bill, since scrutiny, adds new clause 66(2) in the same vein to change the methods people can offer consent by adding to “either orally or in writing” the phrase “or by indicating in any other way”. This is to make it clear that the person may indicate in any way that they refuse psychiatric surgery—it need not be a refusal conveyed through writing or speech. This clarification is important, because a person may physically resist or otherwise physically convey their opposition to participating in an activity.

As I said, there are too many examples to cite in today’s debate of the bill. When we are debating such serious issues as those relating to use of electro-shock therapy for children and young people, involuntary mental health care orders and transfer of care arrangements between providers and jurisdictions, we need to in part rely on the experts and advocates that work in this challenging area to guide the legislation.

I am thankful we have the expertise to do so in oversight bodies such as the Human Rights Commission, the Health Services Commissioner, official visitors for mental health, the Public Advocate and the office of the Ombudsman, amongst others, standing ready to ensure that the rights of the patient and their carers are duly considered in the decision-making and treatment options available under this bill.

It will also require the ongoing monitoring of government officials, non-government service providers and statutory office holders to ensure that we in the ACT are keeping pace with what is a dynamic and challenging field of health. It is also essential that the Assembly be kept abreast of the changes and stand poised to respond with flexibility if the evidence requires it.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video