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
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Thursday 16 February 1989 Firstly, we will establish a 10-bed unit for adult brain-damaged people who are poteptially or actually a danger to themselves or others. Members of the community have expressed concern about these people, who have often been the subject of adverse media reporting. They fall within the broad category of the behaviourally-disturbed, but require an emphasis on training and regular reorientation rather than the treatment program which operates in a forensic unit. This new unit will accept all adult persons with brain damage, whether it arises from motor vehicle or other accidents; dementia arising from alcohol; medical illness or other causes; or where the person is too dangerous to be managed through community-based resources. A survey is being conducted by Mental Health Services during this year to ascertain whether a community house is warranted for those people requiring crisis intervention on account of acute social and psychological trauma. If the need exists, this resource would provide early intervention and resolution of the crisis, thus avoiding admission to the Acute Psychiatric Admission Ward. The balance of the required accommodation will be obtained through community-based residential facilities for people with long-term mental disorders who are not dangerous, and I want honourable members to note that most mentally-ill persons are not dangerous. These facilities will be developed in Darwin and Alice Springs. Modern scientific knowledge and improved community attitudes permit management and care of most long-term mentally-ill people within ,the community, rather than in the traditional mental hospitals of a bygone age. The Correctional Services Division of my department and the Mental Health Services have combined to plan an improved treatment facility within Berrimah Prison. This will offer a new service to prisoners, improving their mental health and treating trose few persons with mental disorders who require the high security environment of a prison. Sex offenders in prison will be able to commence treatment of their deviancy during this custody. As services have been developed, it has become increasingly clear that the Mental Health Act will soon require amendment. A review of the act will be necessary to ensure that the legislation keeps pace with community values, assessment and treatment innovations and an extending service. Territorians can be confident that the foundations of excellent services are in place. They can be confident that the clinical services will compare favourably with those in other places in Australia, and that the organisation and delivery of services will, in some cases, break new ground in the delivery of care to the mentally-ill. Mr Speaker, the Mental Health Services are now an important arm of the Department of Health and Community Services, collaborating with all other divisions and contributing to the well-being of Territorians which is, of course, the primary goal of my department. Mr Speaker, I move that the Assembly take note of the statement. Mr BELL (MacDonnell): Mr Speaker, you will recall that, in the adjournment debate on Tuesday, I referred to the regrettable circumstances of patients with a history of violence causing problems at the Alice Springs Hospital. At that stage, I was not clear about all the circumstances that were reported, and they are still not clear to me. What I am concerned about is that, in this statement, the minister made absolutely no mention of the fact that a patient in Ward 1 of Alice Springs Hospital, whose skull was fractured, had to be removed to Adelaide. 5556
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