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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Premier and Minister for the Arts
    The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk
    Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    New bed-based facility confirmed for young people with severe mental illness


    Premier and Minister for the Arts
    The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

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

    Monday, July 18, 2016

    New bed-based facility confirmed for young people with severe mental illness

    The Queensland Government confirmed today it will build a new bed-based treatment and rehabilitation facility to support young people with severe and complex mental illness.

    Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the new facility was a key plank of the Queensland Government’s response to the Barrett Adolescent Centre Commission of Inquiry’s report. The main volume of Commission’s report was released today.

    The Premier said the Government had given a commitment prior to last year’s election to build such a facility.

    The Government’s delivery of a new facility would be informed by the recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry and in consultation with the families of the former patients of the Barrett Adolescent Centre.

    Commissioner Margaret Wilson QC presented the report of her nine-month inquiry to the Premier on 24 June.

    “Since then, the Government has had the opportunity to consider the report’s findings and recommendations prior to its public release – as Commissioner Wilson requested,” the Premier said.

    “I am pleased to announce that the Government accepts all of the recommendations from the Inquiry and release the Government’s response.”

    “Prior to State Cabinet’s consideration of the report today, briefings were provided last week for the families of former patients at the centre.”

    “These briefings were very positive, but they highlighted the continuing sensitivity of the issues involved with the centre’s closure for those affected.”

    “It is important that we all remain aware that the closure of this facility had severe repercussions for these young Queenslanders, their families and friends.”

    The deaths of three young people, who had been patients at the centre, following its closure are currently the subject of a coronial inquest.

    “This was a bad decision with far-reaching consequences. It was a decision made with inadequate advice and without proper consultation with the families of patients. The decision to close the Centre was announced in a radio interview.”

    “I urged the former Government to not close the Centre. The families also pleaded with them. When they did close it, I committed to an Inquiry into the decision and the transition arrangements so we could provide the right facilities for young Queenslanders with severe and complex mental health issues.”

    “My priority is for the safety and well-being of the young people who were residents or awaiting admission to the former Barrett Centre.

    “My focus remains unchanged and my Government will build a new treatment and rehabilitation facility to cater for their needs and with the input from their families.”

    The Commission of Inquiry was established last September to investigate the decisions and circumstances surrounding the closure of the Barrett Adolescent Centre at Wacol in January 2014.

    The Commission was also asked to investigate arrangements made for the transition of patients at the centre, the adequacy of the support they were given, and whether any legislation was contravened in relation to patient safety and confidentiality.

    In its report, the Commission finds that the decision to close Barrett did not properly assess and analyse relevant factors involved.

    The Commission determined that the reasons provided for the decision did not support its closure, but rather supported the need for a review and update of the appropriate model of care and consideration of a new or replacement facility.

    The Commission was critical of governance and decision-making processes, noting that no one person or entity assumed responsibility and accountability for the processes of the decision-making about the closure of Barrett.

    The Commission also made criticisms regarding systemic issues associated with the redirection of funding from the Redlands project, which was originally planned as a replacement facility for Barrett.

    It found that the decision by former Minister for Health Lawrence Springborg to redirect funding from the Redlands project to rural hospitals, was within his discretion to make, but that he had not been adequately advised.

    Other criticisms relate to over-reliance on views of some key individuals and inadequate briefing notes, record keeping and communication with patients, families and staff.

    The Commission did not find evidence of any contravention of laws or directives relating to patient safety or confidentiality. However, the report makes adverse commentary against a number of Government employees.

    The Public Service Commission is independently reviewing the report and will advise the Government whether disciplinary or any other action against an employee referred to in the report should be taken.

     The report’s recommendations, broadly summarised, are:

    • review legislation that establishes the devolved Hospital and Health Service model in Queensland Health:
    • improve service agreements Queensland Health uses to contract services provided by non-government organisations;
    • improve the availability and use of evaluations to inform clinical interventions in mental health;
    • consider a new building in south-east Queensland offering a range of mental health services for young people, including bed-based services;
    • improve transitions for adolescents moving into adult mental health services; and
    • improve coordination between services designed to support young people who have both an intellectual disability and mental illness.

    Health Minister Cameron Dick said the cost, size, location and model of care provided in the proposed new treatment facility would be guided by contemporary practice, current research and consultation with health consumers, including families from the former Barrett Centre.

    A detailed Implementation Plan will be prepared by the end of September.

    Mr Dick said prior to the release of the report, Queensland Health had made significant changes to improve mental health services for adolescents.

    “As well as an independent review of the Department of Health’s structure and organisational capability, the Government has already been working to ensure young people with severe and complex mental illness are supported with proper clinical care and treatment,” he said.

    If you need help or support contact Lifeline: 13 11 14, beyondblue: 1300 22 4636, Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 (24/7 crisis support), or headspace: 1800 650 890 Alternatively please contact 13HEALTH for information and advice.

    Reporting mental illness and suicide

    Journalists and media organisations should be mindful of the sensitivity of issues relating to mental illness that are likely to be addressed in evidence before the Commission. You are encouraged to use the advice and resources developed by the Australian Government’s Mindframe National Media Initiative for reporting on mental illness and suicide.

    The Mindframe link is:

    The Barrett Adolescent Centre Commission of Inquiry report


     Media contact: 0417 263 791