James Nash House

10 Aug 2008 questionsarchive

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

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: During our record heatwave in March, my office was contacted by a nurse who works at James Nash House and who was very concerned for the residents because the air conditioning system was not working and was, in fact, pumping out hot air. For the benefit of members who have not visited James Nash House, it is a secure unit, there are no windows in the bedrooms and residents are locked in their rooms from 10.30pm until 7.30am with no air circulation. In terms of possible options, putting fans in the rooms could not be considered because of the high possibility of self-harm. Some of the residents had to be moved to other places within James Nash House, including the time-out room. There were also concerns for the occupational health and safety of nursing staff. There are 10 overflow beds from James Nash House that are currently located at Grove Closed in Glenside. My questions are:

1. When does the government intend relocating those 10 beds to James Nash House?

2. Will the minister guarantee that the air conditioning is adequate for all the people who reside at James Nash House?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Environment and Conservation, Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Minister Assisting the Minister for Health) (14:32): I thank the honourable member for her important question, even though obviously her information is four weeks or so out of date, given that she is referring to an alleged incident that occurred during the heatwave. She obviously needs a more contemporary source of information, as it is a bit out of date—but not to worry. I am not aware of any adverse event that occurred during the heatwave, and this is the first I have heard of it, even though, as I said, it is four weeks or so out of date.

Members interjecting:

The Hon. G.E. GAGO: Yes—four weeks later! It is a bit late now that the temperature has dropped, but not to worry. It is better late than never.

Members interjecting:


The Hon. G.E. GAGO: It is so good to see that the honourable member is right on the ball! I am happy to investigate the matter thoroughly and find out what happened, if anything, because we know how the facts never get in the way of a good story for the opposition. We know how often the information they bring into this chamber is inaccurate, so I do not accept at face value really anything that is presented by those opposite. However, I will investigate the matter and find out what happened, what measures were put in place and what plans we have in future. Of course, this highlights this government's commitment to overhauling forensic mental health services. We have accepted that the James Nash House facility is out of date. It is based on a correctional model of service, and it is completely outdated and outmoded. This government is committed to rebuilding it to become a state-of-the-art mental health facility. It will be based on a recovery model of care and on contemporary best practice. We have our best clinicians working on the most appropriate and most contemporary model of care for that facility.

It will be a state-of-the-art mental health facility run by some of our very best psychiatrists and mental health nurses and other staff. We are prepared to put our money where our mouth is. We accept that the James Nash facility is outdated and that it needs an overhaul and, in light of that, we are committed to rebuilding a brand new state-of-the-art, best practice facility at Mobilong.