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February 27, 2021

Labor wants north coast hearings for mental health care inquiry

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Shadow mental health minister Tania Mihailuk (Labor). Photo ABC
Shadow mental health minister Tania Mihailuk (Labor). Photo ABC

Shadow minister for mental health Tania Mihailuk called on the NSW Government to set public hearing dates in Lismore and across the north coast for its inquiry into care of mental health patients during a visit to the region yesterday.

Ms Mihailuk’s comments follow a coronial inquest into the death of mental health patient Miriam Merten at Lismore Base Hospital’s Tallowwood Adult Mental Health Unit on June 3rd 2014.

Shocking CCTV footage released at the inquest exposed the abuse and mistreatment of Ms Merten, who fell 25 times after being a locked in an isolation room and then abandoned in a public corridor.

Labor called for an immediate inquiry into the resourcing and capacity of mental health units across NSW, but instead of a standalone inquiry, the NSW Government extended submissions into the Public Accounts Committee’s Inquiry into the Management of Health Care Delivery in NSW.

‘Labor is calling on the NSW Government to set public hearing dates in Lismore and across the North Coast to enable the community, mentally ill patients, their families, carers, clinicians and stakeholders, an opportunity to share their lived experiences of mental health units across the North Coast,’ Ms Mihailuk said.

‘The community needs assurances that NSW’s mental health facilities, including the Tallowwood unit in Lismore, are adequately resourced, accountable and have the capacity of treating mentally ill patients with a high standard of care.

‘Labor called for a full public inquiry into the resourcing and capacity of mental health units, but the Government instead extended written submissions – for one month – into an existing Public Accounts Committee inquiry into the management of health care delivery.

‘It is imperative that the NSW Government extend the deadline for written submissions given the lack of effort they have put into promoting this inquiry.

The Northern NSW Local Health District operates three acute inpatient mental health units and one sub-acute mental health unit, including Tallowwood and Kamala (Children’s) in Lismore, Kurrajong in Tweed, and Tuckeroo in Byron.

Ms Mihailuk said that more time was needed for members of the public to share their lived experience of NSW mental health units and that public hearings must be held in Lismore and across the North Coast region.

Written submissions close on 30th June 2017. Submissions can be made by emailing [email protected]  or visiting the inquiry website https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/inquiries/Pages/lodge-a-submission.aspx?pk=2423.



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