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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 10 March 2016) . . Page.. 967 ..

This year the new mental health legislation commenced on 1 March. This is new legislation that creates a new legal framework geared towards recovery and the least restrictive care model. It is also worth noting that in the latest report on mental health services from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the ACT received the highest rating in consumer engagement of any state or territory jurisdiction—a strong endorsement of our approach in delivering better mental health services for our community.

There are a range of important services being delivered, including the child and adolescent mental health service focusing on perinatal mental health care, a dialectical behavioural therapy team, an eating disorders team and community teams, amongst other services. The adult mental health service has teams covering all areas of the ACT, including in our emergency departments at both our public hospitals and, of course, in our public inpatient facilities.

The government is also very committed to the delivery of new infrastructure, including the new secure mental health unit at Symonston, which is now under construction, and the delivery of the new University of Canberra public hospital, which will also provide important subacute mental health care for our community.

I think what you can see is that there is a comprehensive range of services designed to improve mental health care in our community.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question.

MS BURCH: Minister, can you please provide an overview of the new Mental Health Act?

MR CORBELL: The new Mental Health Act is a very important restructure and reform of our mental health services legislative framework here in the ACT. It has been long-awaited by healthcare consumers and by mental health consumers and their carers. The key principles are to create a legal environment that supports and is geared towards recovery and the least restrictive care model. It creates more empathetic and contemporary legislation better suited to our community’s aspirations and expectations for the treatment and care of people with a mental illness or mental disorder.

Importantly, the changes incorporated into the new act follow on from improvements in the human rights area and ensure that we are compliant with the relevant international human rights instruments. It is about making sure that, wherever possible, mental health consumers can make decisions about their own care.

One of the key elements of the new act is that capacity to make decisions must always be assumed. Furthermore, a person with a mental illness or mental disorder must always be given the opportunity to make or contribute to decisions about their treatment, care and/or support. In counterbalance to the act’s emphasis on an individual’s rights, the act also of course retains protections for people who are assessed to be at risk of harm to themselves or others.

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