Mental Health (Inpatient) Amendment Bill

31 May 2012 archivespeech

This speech is in relation to the Mental Health (Inpatient) Amendment Bill which focusses on the ECT provisions and the circumstances in which ECT would be used for minors. The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK states that it should only be used against the will of parents as a last result.

In committee.

Clause 1.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The minister responsible, I understand, has agreed that we will try to soldier on. There has been a number of amendments to this bill, some of which were this week which makes them difficult to proceed with, particularly in our situation. The Liberal Party has a process that means these need to be considered on a Monday of a sitting week, so we will not be ready to deal with those. However, I have some questions which relate to some of the amendments and I would appreciate the opportunity to give the minister a chance to come back with some responses, as well.

In particular, in relation to the ECT provisions, to which the Hon. Ann Bressington has some amendments, my first question is about the circumstances in which ECT would be used for minors and whether that is, indeed, only in life-threatening situations. We would appreciate some comments from the minister in that regard.

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY: We will be discussing the Hon. Ann Bressington's amendments in detail.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: So you just want me to put these on the record?

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY: Yes, just put them on the record and we will address them.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: In relation to the context of what those life threatening situations would be, the opposition has considerable sympathy for the amendments put forward by the Hon. Ann Bressington. We think that the provision for minors, particularly against the will of their parents, should only be used as an absolute last resort. In relation to ECT provisions generally for minors, whether two opinions are required or how the approval for treatment given, my third question is: how many times ECT has been used on minors under the age of 16 years. I understand the government keeps some sort of data on that, so if we could be provided with that, that would be appreciated.

In relation to the Hon. Tammy Franks' amendments, I suspect that when she moves those the government will make considerable comments. The Hon. Rob Brokenshire has some amendments relating to the community visitors scheme, which is something proudly the Liberal Party had inserted into the Mental Health Act in 2009. I understand that his amendment seeks to shift the community visitors scheme from the Mental Health Act to the Guardianship Act, I think.

To clarify and provide some information on that, we would appreciate having an update on the community visitors scheme. I understand that Mr Maurice Corcoran, who has been a very fine advocate in the disability field; and, from memory, when I worked for the minister for disability services, he was an advocate for community visitor schemes generally. I am pleased to see that he has been appointed as the coordinator.
I would appreciate an update on how the scheme is going, how many volunteers have been appointed, whether there are any reports available from the establishment, albeit some time after the act was proclaimed and passed. How many visits have taken place, does it cover all our institutions at this stage and what funding is available for that scheme? That will assist us in reaching a position. I think they are the only questions I have at this stage.

The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY: I thank the honourable member for giving us the opportunity of answering these questions. Before you solidify your support or lock in behind the amendment, we will give you some information, because a number bodies are opposed to that amendment. We will talk to you about that in order to get some understanding on it.

Clause passed.

Clauses 2 and 3 passed.

Progress reported; committee to sit again.