Territory Stories

Parliamentary record : Part I debates (16 February 1989)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (16 February 1989)


Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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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 16 February 1989 ensures that skills and knowledge from various professional groups are available, which leads to a high quality of care and enhances treatment and care. The Child and Family Service and the Adult Service teams comprise psychiatrists, medical officers, registrars, community psychiatric nurses, child and family therapists, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists and the all-important administrative support staff. Some expected benefits for'the people of the Northern Territory can be summarised as follows: reduction in personal distress for individuals; reduction of disruption to family life, resulting in less police involvement and less use of the courts; diminished disruption to the lives of children and a reduction in adverse, long-term effects; reduced risk of suicide and accidents; decreased use of alcohol and drugs; reduced reliance on multiple community resource; and reduced use of the prison system. Mr Speaker, I would not pretend that our work in this area is complete. A great deal more needs to be done to refine services and introduce new programs. Of course, existing programs are under constant review to ensure that an appropriate focus is maintained. The government's current expenditure is $5.4m per year. Over the next 5 to 10 years, initiatives will be put in place which will put the Territory in the forefront of progressive mental health services in this country. It is our intention to focus on primary prevention and to introduce the first comprehensive' mental health prevention, education and promotion program in Australia. The recent report to Commonwealth, state and territory health ministers entitled 'A National Mental Health Services Policy' reveals that no other state or territory in Australia has a comprehensive mental health prevention, education and promotion program. This is despite the fact that preventive and educational programs have been used effectively in all other areas of health. This service will concentrate on informing the community on ways to achieve and maintain mental health and facilitate the voluntary adoption of behaviour that leads to improved health. It will use its educational resources to teach and support other professionals who come in contact with menta 1 ill ness in the course of thei r work. In thi sway, early identification, referral and treatment will occur and the public will lose its apprehension over contact with those who are or have been mentally-ill. In its planning, a mental health service has to acknowledge that, although prevention and education will playa very important role, there are some menta 1 111 nesses whi ch, gi ven our present state of knowl edge, cannot be prevented. Over the last 2 years, one goal has been to reduce the number of people in our community with untreated mental illness. Unfortunately, there are some people whose illness takes a chronic or recurring form and who may become socially and psychologically incapacitated. These people need ongoing treatment, supervision and support. My department is planning to develop adequate resources for the appropriate care of these people. With an expected strong growth in population over the next 10 years, the total requirement for beds for the mentally-ill in the Territory, both acute and long-term, will be approximately 90. It is proposed to provide these beds in a number of ways. The Psychiatric Rehabilitation Ward at the Royal Darwin Hospital will be extended to accommodate 20 people for treatment and rehabilitation. The Forensic Ward will be extended to accommodate 14 people, enabling it to cater for double its present capacity. People with mental illness who are a potential danger to themselves or others, whether or not they have committed an offence, will use the ward. The emphasis on treatment of offenders who are mentally-ill is part of an enlightened mental health services program. 5555

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