Mental Health

Melina BATH (Eastern Victoria) (18:18): (89) My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Mental Health, the Honourable Gabrielle Williams in the other place, and it relates to the role of the nominated support person under a mental health order. The action I seek is for a review of section 61 of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 to look at including a family member along with a nominated support person to represent a patient’s interests. The minister will understand that this comes from one particular case study, one particular constituent of mine, but I think we have all heard very heartbreaking cases throughout our electorates and on many occasions.

I have de-identified the son, but David wants to have his name in Hansard. David’s adult son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder some 30 years ago. His son has mood swings that fluctuate between extreme highs and emotional lows. During manic periods he is quite functional and quite creative. During the low periods he often becomes highly distressed, depressed and considers suicide. His son can also be highly volatile and compulsive, displaying behaviour that we understand to be verbally and physically aggressive. Because of this behaviour he has been arrested six times, most recently only this week. The police are unable to pursue any criminal charges on many occasions and place him before the Magistrates Court. The Magistrates Court releases the son back into the community, and the cycle goes on.

He has been hospitalised on many occasions, and medications are prescribed. However – and this is where the issue comes in – he is concerned that the system is failing his son. My constituent has described his frustrations of not being able to provide some very good and vital family history understanding and mental health history so that his son can have specialised treatment and recovery.

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Act in section 61 outlines the role of a nominated person in relation to a patient. The role involves not only advocating for the views and preferences of the patient but also the person receiving information and being consulted accordingly. My constituent feels that the patient should be able to choose to nominate a family member or anybody else as their support person. He is just so distressed that additional information has not been provided. We know and we understand, and it is most reasonable, that there needs to be a balance between patient autonomy and his or her right to choose that support person and the need to actually treat that particular person in the best possible way – and sometimes additional information is needed. So as I have said before, review this to look to add in a family member.