Chief Psychiatrist

A question for the Minister for Health - the Chief Psychiatrist

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing
questions to the Minister for Health on the subject of the Chief Psychiatrist.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: On 6 October, Dr Aaron Groves stepped down from his position
as the state's Chief Psychiatrist. He had advised the government of this plan to resign from the
position to take up a new role interstate some four months earlier. His decision to move into a new
role was made in early June, less than two months after he completed an independent review into
the operation of the Older Persons Mental Health Services at Oakden. My questions for the minister

1. Given that Dr Groves indicated that he was resigning from the role four months ago,
what steps have been taken to secure a replacement Chief Psychiatrist?

2. Given that the Mental Health Act does not provide for an acting chief psychiatrist, by
what authority are gazettals being made by Dr Brian McKinney?

3. Will the minister assure the council that he will veto the SA Health proposal to merge
the independent and oversighting role of the Chief Psychiatrist with the strategic role of the head of
mental health services, to become a title of Executive Director, Mental Health and Substance Abuse,
SA Health?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Health, Minister for Mental Health and
Substance Abuse): I thank the honourable member for her question. My advice is that
indeed these two roles were once combined prior to the appointment of Dr Groves. We thank
Dr Groves for his service to the state. He has had a formidable job, particularly in light of the Oakden
report, where of course he put together and was able to establish what were substantial revelations
that now inform the government's response to Oakden, not just Oakden specifically, but also
providing mental health services for members of the public who are older.

Those two roles were once combined. They were then separated for a number of reasons,
many of which I am advised have since expired in terms of their necessity, and now they are being
combined. I have been advised that the re-combination of these responsibilities is something that
does have support around the sector. I am even advised, I think, that that includes Dr Groves himself.

However, the key objective here is about making sure that the person who is the Chief
Psychiatrist doesn't just have the capacity to be able to review clinical decisions, but also has the
capacity to be able to implement change going forward. That appears to be an emeritus position, an
emeritus objective, which is why the decision was made to do that and why the government is now
actively in search of a new Chief Psychiatrist to fill that role and that mandate in an adjusted form.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Supplementary: the minister actually hasn't answered
a couple of my questions. Given that the indication was that Dr Groves was going to resign some
four months earlier, what steps have been taken to secure a replacement, and under what authority
is the acting chief psychiatrist currently making gazettals?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Health, Minister for Mental Health and
Substance Abuse): I am more than happy to take the second part of the honourable
member's question on notice. I will seek advice so as to ensure that we can get an accurate response
to the honourable member's question in regard to the acting chief psychiatrist. In regard to the first
part of the Hon. Ms Lensink's question, the government is in the process of recruiting a new Chief
Psychiatrist. That's what we are doing in response to his resignation.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Supplementary: has the minister received the annual
report of the Chief Psychiatrist for 2016-17? When is he going to table it?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Health, Minister for Mental Health and
Substance Abuse): We will table the annual report in accordance with the appropriate time