Page 3505 - Week 11 - Thursday, 24 September 2015

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Those amendments and new clauses provide for safeguarding people’s liberties and welfare, in four scenarios. One is where they are subject to emergency detention because they are in the midst of a mental health crisis and at serious risk. Many of the bill’s clauses would protect people’s rights in this scenario, but chapter 6 of the bill specifically applies in this situation.

Another scenario governed by the bill is when people need to be transferred in or out of the ACT because they fall within one of the following four groups: people who are subject to warrants or orders of other Australian states and territories who need treatment, care and support in their home jurisdiction; people in other states and territories who need mental health treatment, care and support in the ACT; people subject to orders under ACT mental health law who are in another state or territory and need to be returned to the ACT; and people subject to orders who need treatment in a state or territory other than the ACT, because of the availability of specialist care not in their home jurisdiction or because their carer or significant others live there.

Many of the bill’s clauses work to ensure the welfare of people who need to be transferred into or out of the ACT for their treatment. However, the provisions that exclusively address the interests of people being transferred are in chapter 15 of the bill.

The third scenario that is dealt with by this bill is the regulation of the private psychiatric facilities that deliver services to people in the ACT. Much of the bill is about ensuring that people with mental illness are treated with respect and dignity, but chapter 13 particularly regards the duties of the operators of private psychiatric facilities.

Finally, the fourth scenario, as members have mentioned, is when electroconvulsive therapy or psychiatric surgery is being considered as a treatment for people and when or how they receive it. Chapter 9 of the bill specifically addresses this scenario.

The scrutiny of bills committee recommended in its report on the bill that I respond to how it “considers that the Assembly would be assisted by advice from the minister as to the legislative history, if any, of the provisions concerning both electroconvulsive therapy and psychiatric surgery”. I am pleased to outline a bit of the context around this matter for members this morning.

Electroconvulsive therapy and psychiatric surgery have been expressly addressed by legislation covering the ACT for a long period of time. The commonwealth Mental Health Ordinance 1962 and then the Mental Health Ordinance 1983 both regulated electroconvulsive therapy and psychiatric surgery through the incorporation of the then New South Wales Lunacy Act 1898, as amended by the New South Wales Lunacy (Amendment) Act 1952.

Of course, in 1989 the ACT became self-governing. In 1994 the Assembly repealed the Lunacy Act in its application in the ACT and enacted the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Act 1994. From then until now, part 7 of that act provided for controlled administration of electroconvulsive therapy and psychiatric surgery.

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