Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 21 October 2010



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 21 October 2010

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Parliamentary Record 15


Debates for 11th Assembly 2008 - 2012; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 11th Assembly 2008 - 2012




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Thursday 21 October 2010 practitioner must make the appropriate order for involuntary transmission. There are several references to patients: Jock, Michael and Jessica. The conclusion of Mr Cubillo and the Community Visitor Program is, and I quote from page 18: While understanding the need for a comprehensive risk management system, the system must be framed within the confines of the legislation designed to regulate the admission of people to psychiatric inpatient units. The cases outlined above demonstrate that this is not the case. That is a very important line; I will return to that shortly. The manager TEMHS the Top End Mental Health Services: in response to reports from the CVP the Community Visitor Program: suggests that the CVP manager meet regularly with APPs from TEMHS in an attempt to discuss and resolve these issues as they arise. Last night I said: No, much more has to be done. The law has to be obeyed. Now, some time has passed. I have read section 30 of the act and it does nothing to allay my concerns. Last night, I couched my comments around the unlawful detention of people who appear on a voluntary basis. I mentioned at the outset I would be talking in regard to section 30(1) of the Mental Health and Related Services Act, which says: A medical practitioner or the senior registered nurse on duty at an approved treatment facility may detain a person admitted as a voluntary patient for up to 6 hours if he or she believes, due to the condition of the person deteriorating since his or her admission or from information obtained, that the person may fulfil the criteria for admission as an involuntary patient. What has to occur in the practitioners mind is, within six hours of the voluntary patient arriving, the APP or a registered nurse believe, due to the condition of the person deteriorating - there has to be a deterioration from the time the person enters the institution to the time the practitioner sees the patient or becomes aware of the deterioration from information obtained - the person may fulfil the criteria of admission as an involuntary patient. Section 30 is only invoked if that person deteriorates in such a way to match the criteria for admission as an involuntary patient. The term for admission as an involuntary patient when I was a copper I believe it has not changed - is being sectioned. A section of the act would enable that to occur and you were sectioned if you were subject to an involuntary admission. Notwithstanding the six-hour time limit available under that tight criterion - the person must be unwell enough to require potential sectioning - Eddie Cubillo says in his report: Essentially, the policy is that all consumers are not permitted leave in the first 24 hours after admission, despite the requirement that a person admitted voluntarily must be informed of the right to leave the facility at any time. After the first 24 hours, risks are assessed daily by staff, at the very least, during handover. On the basis of this risk assessment, the consumer is either able to leave the ward alone, granted leave with conditions, or is unable to leave the ward. There is a vast difference between the section 30 six-hour time limit permitted by a statute passed in this House, and a policy quoted as saying consumers are not permitted to leave within the first 24 hours after admission. It is for this reason, I presume, Mr Cubillo said they are not operating within the confines of the legislation designed to regulate the admission of people to psychiatric and in-patient units, and the cases outlined demonstrate this is not the case. So, the cases outlined by Mr Cubillo Jock, Jessica and Michael - would have been kept for longer than the six hours proposed, or kept in circumstances contrary to the criteria outlined in section 30. Consequently, I have yet to change my opinion that there appears to be an allegation by Mr Cubillo that these people are being held in custody outside the permitted parameters of the laws of the Northern Territory. That is my concern. I understand mental illness is a difficult thing to deal with. I also appreciate mental illness is something almost unsanitary in the public mind - we do not like to talk about it. We live in an age where we do more than ever; however, if you have ever witnessed a person having a psychotic episode, people tend to rear away from it. I, as a legislator, cannot rear away from information which says the Northern Territory governments policy is outside the law. Moreover, I can see no suggestion in the legislation that the Northern Territory governments legislative instrument 6537

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