Coroner's Finding No Great Surprise - It's Time To Act

14 Dec 2006 archivemedia

The findings of a coronial inquest into two stabbings by mentally ill people were of no great surprise, Shadow Minister for Mental Health Michelle Lensink said today.

Ms Lensink said the Rann Government should urgently implement the coroner’s recommendations and acknowledge that the mental health system was in desperate need of reform.

“For months the community has been told that reform of the mental health system cannot take place until the government receives a report into mental health by Monsignor Cappo and the Social Inclusion Board,” Ms Lensink said.

“I would hope that in light of the coroner’s recommendations, reforms are made before some other tragedy occurs because of the failings of the current system.”

Ms Lensink said the state’s mental health system lacked sufficient beds, especially for those who were a potential danger to the community or themselves.

She said the Rann Government had continually refused to acknowledge the desperate need for supported accommodation within our community.

“One of the recommendations in the coroner’s report is that the Mental Health Act should be reviewed to give doctors greater discretion regarding continued detention orders. However, the government has apparently already reviewed the Act, but some 18 months later we have not seen any drafted legislation changes.

“I understand that doctors are apprehensive and feel forced to take a conservative approach to detention orders because they are afraid of the consequences from an overly politically correct Guardianship Board.

“Unfortunately there are occasions when people are just too unwell to be placed in community care. The government should stop trying to force ‘community’ care on people who are not able to live by themselves with little support.

“Within mental health there is the need to retain places of refuge or ‘asylum’, rather than force everyone out into the community with no thought for the full consequences.”