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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Major mental health reforms for Queensland

    Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Thursday, September 17, 2015

    Major mental health reforms for Queensland

    Today marks an historic day in the history of mental health with the introduction of Queensland’s Mental Health Bill 2015.

    Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said the Bill will overhaul the Mental Health Act 2000, which is 15 years old and has not kept pace with developments in patient rights and clinical practice.

    “The Mental Health Bill 2015 is being introduced following an extensive two-month consultation process in which the draft Bill was released for public comment,” he said.

    “Nearly 100 written submissions were received, and I thank Queenslanders who took the time to engage in the process.

    “The strong engagement of stakeholders throughout the consultation period demonstrates that improvements can be made to legislation through careful and methodical engagement and consultation with the community.

    “The Bill will offer benefits to people who have a mental illness but do not have the capacity to consent to their treatment and care.

    “The Bill also makes improvements to processes in the criminal justice system for people found to be unfit for trial or of unsound mind when they allegedly commit an unlawful act.”

    Mr Dick said that the Bill addresses a deficiency in the legal system in relation to actions that magistrates may take where dealing with minor offences allegedly committed by a person with a mental illness or an intellectual disability.

    This improvement flows from the advocacy of Mr John and Mrs Collein Avery to help people with an intellectual disability who become inadvertently involved with the criminal justice system.

    “They have sought improvements in the legal system in this State to prevent vulnerable individuals from being unfairly found guilty of minor offences,” Mr Dick said.

    “The Bill responds directly to these concerns by giving magistrates a clear power to dismiss a charge if a person is not fit for trial.”

    Mr Dick said that an earlier draft Bill, introduced by the previous Government, was a step in the right direction but had some drafting and policy problems

    “The Exposure Draft Process has helped us fix these problems and deliver a better result for all Queenslanders.”

    Other improvements include:

    • Reallocating the power to require a forensic patient to wear a GPS monitoring device from a public servant to the independent Mental Health Court and the Mental Health Review Tribunal;
    • Strengthening the independence of Independent Patient Rights Advisers;
    • Including provisions to regulate the use of physical restraint in authorised mental health services;
    • Requiring a patient to be treated under an advance health directive, or with the consent of a personal attorney or guardian – instead of under a treatment authority – if the patient can be treated this way;
    • Supporting patient recovery, including by providing that a patient on a treatment authority must be treated in the community unless it is not possible to meet the patient’s treatment and care needs in this way;
    • The right for a patient, or a support person, to seek an independent second opinion, if there are unresolved concerns with the patient’s treatment and care;
    • Requiring the Mental Health Review Tribunal to provide free legal representation for patients for specific types of hearings, such as where the Attorney-General is represented, for minors, and for electroconvulsive therapy applications;
    • Enhancing the provisions for victims of unlawful acts, including by notifying victims of the reasons for increasing community treatment for the relevant patient.

    ENDS

    MEDIA CONTACT:            Anika Hume  0439 253 815