The Bligh Government has announced the appointment of Queensland’s first Chief Practitioner, Disability.
Minister for Disability Services and Mental Health, Curtis Pitt, said Dr Jeffrey Chan, internationally renown for his expertise and high level credentials in working with very vulnerable people with disabilities, has taken on the new role.
“Dr Chan has a wealth of behavioural expertise and experience in how to manage people with challenging behaviours and those on court ordered treatment, in other words, forensic orders,” Mr Pitt said.
The Minister said Dr Chan would provide advice to government and oversee major reforms in the area of forensic disability.
The Forensic Disability Bill 2011, introduced into State Parliament today, covers a range of reforms for people with an intellectual disability, but not a mental illness, who are subject to a forensic order.
“The reforms will deliver an alternative option for the Mental Health Court when dealing with people with an intellectual disability who are unfit for trial or of unsound mind,” he said.
The Minister said Queensland’s first forensic disability service is expected to open in the coming months – a purpose-built, secure facility at Wacol.
“It will be an appropriate environment where offending and challenging behaviour can be addressed and improved,” he said.
Mr Pitt said the new service would cater for up to 10 people with an intellectual or cognitive disability who require secure care.
“It’s an alternative to detaining people in mental health facilities, but we have to face facts that some of these offenders are alleged to have committed very serious offences.
“They need to be housed somewhere safe and secure so they can get the right treatment to address their offending behaviour. The community would expect nothing less,” Mr Pitt said.
The Minister said the Forensic Disability Bill 2011 met key recommendations of two major reports: the Butler Report, Promoting balance in the forensic mental health system and the Carter Report, Challenging behaviour and disability – a targeted response.
“Both reports highlighted the inappropriateness of detention of people with an intellectual or cognitive disability placed on forensic orders in a mental health facility and outlined steps to take to bring about reform,” he said.
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