Motor Vehicles (Suspension Of Licences Of Medically Unfit Drivers)

29 Mar 2004 speecharchive
This bill is to restore the power of the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to immediately suspend the driver's licence of a person on receiving information from a legally qualified medical practitioner, registered optometrist or registered physiotherapist or from another source where the person is suffering from a physical or mental illness, disability or deficiency such that they are likely to endanger the public if they continue to drive. In this speech Michelle expresses some concerns felt in relation to this bill however she states 'broadly speaking, I support the bill'.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I wish to place a couple of comments on the record in relation to this bill, which, as I understand it from the minister's second reading explanation, is to restore the power of the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to immediately suspend the driver's licence of a person on receiving information from a legally qualified medical practitioner, registered optometrist or registered physiotherapist or from another source where the person is suffering from a physical or mental illness, disability or deficiency such that they are likely to endanger the public if they continue to drive.


The party's position was outlined by the Hon. Robert Lawson on 23 March, when he placed on the record some of the reservations of our members in relation to this bill, as did the opposition transport spokesperson and member for Light, Malcolm Buckby, on 19 February. I will not repeat those concerns, but they broadly relate to the manner in which the licence can be revoked and which way the ledger should fall, the importance of elderly people maintaining their independence through having the right to drive and the pressure that professionals will be placed under from certain individuals regarding the decision that they make.


The concerns that I would like to place on the record relate to something a little different, and that is the potential omission of the professional group the occupational therapists. I would like to read from their web site, as follows:


What is occupational therapy? What do occupational therapists do? Occupational therapists are health professionals who are trained to assist people to overcome limitations caused by injury or illness, psychological or emotional difficulties, developmental delay or the effects of ageing. Their goal is to assist each individual to move from dependence to independence, maximising personal productivity, wellbeing and quality of life.
In relation to adults and the elderly there appears the following statement:


When an adult or elderly person is affected by an illness, accident or workplace injury, an occupational therapist can help on the road to recovery. They may assist with return to home and work life through the development of new skills for normal daily living such as household tasks and personal care, return to work or leisure programs. They may also make changes to the work or home environment to make life easier and safer.
They are particularly trained in the disciplines of human biology, social and behavioural science, occupational science, occupational therapy, theory and practice and communication and management.


I have contacted a person from a service that has ceased to exist (the driver assessment rehabilitation service) to gauge her opinion. I am yet to receive that opinion, but when I do I would be happy to provide it to the government. This woman's discipline is occupational therapy, and I understand that the other professionals who worked in that service were also occupational therapists. I think that this is a potential omission. In my previous life I worked within a multi-disciplinary team, and occupational therapists were certainly very important in assessing people's function in terms of matching their physical and mental limitations or abilities to tasks and, therefore, I ask the government whether it would consider an amendment at some point. However, broadly speaking, I support the bill.