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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 24 September 2015) . . Page.. 3506 ..

Since the enactment of the 1994 act, electroconvulsive therapy provisions have been significantly reformed once. This was by way of the now repealed Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Amendment Act 2005, which came into force on 7 September that year. The psychiatric surgery provisions have not been amended since the 1994 act, but they would be by amendments to the bill that I am moving today.

The explanatory statement and the revised explanatory statement provide comprehensive evidence as to why the ACT statute book should continue to provide for contemporary electroconvulsive therapy and psychiatric surgery provisions. At the beginning of each statement the bill’s controls on each of these treatments are enumerated and explained, including the mandatory processes for obtaining and documenting informed consent to these treatments, the express provisions on when a person is to be considered as unable to give that consent or to have withdrawn it, and the offence provisions for misuse of the treatments.

Both explanatory statements cite the up-to-date international and national expert consensuses and peer-reviewed medical research on the safety of modern day electroconvulsive therapy and its therapeutic efficacy for people with certain mental illnesses that are severe and have proven mostly or altogether unresponsive to other treatments such as counselling and medication. The explanatory statements also cite people’s testimonies in their published autobiographies of how they found electroconvulsive therapy both safe and indeed life saving.

Similarly, both explanatory statements refer to the evidence regarding psychiatric surgery. This form of surgery is rarely performed in Australia. However, more recently, research and development are producing surgical techniques based on sophisticated functional imaging and models of psychiatric disorders. Research is demonstrating that these techniques are safe and that they effectively alleviate some people’s symptoms in certain mental illnesses when all other treatments have failed.

As I have noted earlier, the enactment of this bill will complete the legislative reforms that the review advisory committee advised upon.

The former Minister for Health thanked the members of the review advisory committee in the debate on that bill, and I would like to express my thanks to them again. In particular, I thank Mr Steve Druitt. Mr Druitt was the ACT mental health act review project leader over the last four years until his retirement in late August this year. Mr Druitt’s passion for and commitment to the voice of people with mental illness being respected has a legacy in the various mechanisms for the expression of that voice that the enactment of this bill enshrines. I wish him very well in his new ventures and thank him for the professional expertise and vocational commitment that he unwaveringly invested in this review and more broadly, over a long career, to mental health in our community. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

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