Michelle Lensink

James Nash House

I seek leave to make an explanation before asking the Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse a question about James Nash House.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: In estimates on 4 July, the minister advised:

With regard to the forensic mental health facility, design and construction will continue in 2007-08 subject to the outcome of the Glenside master plan that we expect to release shortly.

She then made a ministerial statement on 26 July in which she advised that the facility at Oakden would be relocated as part of the Mobilong prison service.

Under freedom of information the Liberal opposition has received copies of the mental health business case, and in 2005 I note that there is no reference at all to shifting the forensic service to within the prison system. Furthermore, there is advice that was provided to a select committee into mental health and the prison system. The then director of mental health services, Dr John Brayley, advised:

. . . views I have heard from practitioners in the forensic mental health system. . . is that they see it is quite important that they are employed by Health and are part of Health in their role, rather than being part of Correctional Services.

He also said:

With the planned development of the new forensic mental health facility in South Australia, one core function that has been considered has been to have a centre of excellence linked to hospitals and universities.

The Hon. Angus Redford said:

There is enough space around James Nash to incorporate the new facility and even for post release care if required.

Learne Durrington from the department replied:

Yes, we are very lucky to have that site.

My questions are:

1. Why did the minister pre-empt the decision to relocate before the release of the mental health master plan?

2. Given that the minister said over two months ago that she expected to release it soon, can she give us an updated timetable?

3. Given that there is no evidence that either clinicians or the department recommended anything other than a rebuild at the existing site, whose advice did she take and why did she chose to ignore the experts?

4. Will she deny that the government plans to shift forensic mental health from health into the correctional services system?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO(Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse): I thank the honourable member for her important questions. One thing that the opposition just cannot get over is the government’s prerogative to govern. We do that in an incredibly responsible way. I remind the opposition that this government has spent more on mental health than the opposition ever spent on mental health, and we will continue to do that. We have not only designed a complete reform agenda for the whole of our mental health service here in South Australia but we have also committed the dollars to go with it. In the past 12 months I remind members we have committed $107.9 million to rebuild a reformed mental health system. It is new money for new services: $107.9 million, whereas when it was in government the opposition allowed our mental health system to be ground into the ground—an absolute disgrace.

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! The minister has the call.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: Thank you for your protection, Mr President. So, not only have we put together a blueprint and committed the resources to completely reform South Australia’s mental health system but included in that we have also made an announcement for a new facility to be located at the Mobilong site, a 40-bed secure forensic mental health centre. This will be a national benchmark in forensic mental health standards, and it is outrageous to suggest that the location at Mobilong diminishes or in some way does not support the model of this care being developed and modelled by our clinicians. The model of this care is based on our best experts in this state who have already fed into this model design and will continue to do so. This new design will be a centre of excellence. It will indeed provide state-of-the-art services and be a state-of-the-art-design, and its focus will be on rehabilitation and recovery.

An honourable member: That’s good news.

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: It is good news. It is outrageous that those sitting opposite who were responsible for the downgrading of our mental health services could have the audacity to criticise this commitment and vision. The prisons have made a decision to locate to the Mobilong site, there is a PPP process and it was timely and responsible for us to consider the forensic mental health services as being part of that PPP.

If we had sat on our hands, like the opposition did, had done nothing and not provided extra funding, we would still have the old outdated services from the opposition. However, we did not sit on our hands.We looked for opportunities and, as there was an opportunity at the Mobilong site, we took the initiative and seized the opportunity of forming a partnership in relation to that PPP. As I have always stressed, and the Hon Michelle Lensink knows this, it will not be part of Correctional Services; it will be a stand-alone facility based on national state of the art forensic mental health standards.

In terms of the consultation, I have been through that in detail before, but I am happy to go through it all again. As part of the significant reforms being undertaken, the government has announced this new forensic facility. In terms of the consultation process that the opposition has asked me to repeat, as I said, I have already put this on the record but, as it has asked me to repeat the details, I will do so. In the first half of 2006, meetings were held with senior staff at James Nash House and with key representatives from forensic Mental Health Services. These meetings focused on the configuration of the new facilities, in particular the mix of acute, sub-acute and rehabilitation facilities. The concept planning at this stage reflected the consultation with senior staff.

In late 2006, as I have previously reported but the opposition is insisting I repeat, further concept development work was undertaken. At this stage, planning assumed that the facilities would be developed at the Oakden site. Following the announcement that the new prison would be developed at Mobilong, the feasibility of locating a forensic campus on that site was assessed. A staff meeting was held on 26 July informing staff at James Nash House of the government’s decision to develop the secure forensic mental health facility at Mobilong.

Staff were informed at this meeting that the extensive consultation process will now commence, exploring a range of issues, including further work on the concept design and detailed documentation for the new facility and transport and travel arrangements for patients, visitors and staff. Due to the size of the services planned at the Mobilong site, a regular transport service from Adelaide to Murray Bridge will be explored. This may be accessed by everyone reliant on the provision of public transport services, and the feasibility of this service for staff will also be explored.

Incentive packages will also be considered. These initiatives will be discussed with the unions and it is likely they will be similar to the packages being offered by Correctional Services. Following on from the announcement of the new facility in July, a service modelling advisory group has now been established. This reference group comprises key staff representatives from James Nash House who are providing advice on the design, configuration and operations for the new forensic mental health centre plans for Mobilong.

In relation to the Murray Bridge council, departmental officers have met with its representatives on two occasions to discuss the initiative, and a presentation was given at a meeting attended by elected members of the council and local health services personnel on 30 July.

As can be seen, this government has again followed through with its commitment to the total reform of South Australia’s mental health system, and included in that is our forensic mental health system. I am very proud to announce that this will be part of a PPP process at the Mobilong site, where a new 40-bed state-of-the-art forensic facility will be developed.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Can the minister confirm that the first date on which the staff who work at James Nash House knew about the relocation was actually on the day that she made her ministerial announcement?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: As I said, it sticks in the opposition’s craw that it is the government’s prerogative and responsibility to govern, and that is what we do. We do not resile from our commitment to reform South Australia’s mental health system, and that includes our forensic mental health system. It really gets on their goat, because they sat on their hands for eight years and did nothing but allow South Australia’s mental health system to crumble and erode—an absolutely disgraceful performance from the previous government.

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