C.11 Human Rights Act 2004

Staff of ACT Health continue to be supported in their access to internal and external training opportunities relating to human rights issues. The Human Rights Commission provides regular training sessions on human rights matters for all ACT Health employees, which are widely advertised within the agency. Staff are encouraged to attend training sessions, which are provided free of charge. In addition, representatives from the Human Rights Commission attend ACT Health managers and staff orientation induction modules and provide information on the human rights responsibilities of staff. ACT Health is committed to building a human rights culture in the delivery of health services and to ensuring that ACT Health managers work within a human rights framework.

In ACT Health, education on the Human Rights Act 2004 has been identified as essential for policy writers and for manager-level staff and above. The human rights training for managers program is conducted throughout the year by the Staff Development Unit. In addition, in consultation with the ACT Human Rights Commission, ACT Health has now developed an e‑learning program to allow an alternative method of training, as well as the face-to-face sessions. The face-to-face training, delivered by internal trainers, was completed by 95 staff in 2012‑13: 27 senior officers, 20 health professionals, 11 administration officers, 35 nurses, one medical scientist and one medical officer. Course evaluations completed by participants indicate that the training increased participants’ awareness of their obligations under the Act. In respect of the e-learning program, 57 staff enrolled online and 34 completed the module. In total, 129 staff completed human rights training in 2012‑13.

In 2012‑13 ACT Health developed and published a number of brochures dealing with human rights issues of concern to the organisation. ACT Health printed 10,000 copies of the Healthcare Rights brochure, 30,000 copies of the Listening and Learning Consumer Feedback brochure, 10,000 copies of the Guide to Patient, Consumer, Carers and Family brochure, 500 copies of the Mental Health Charter of Rights brochure and 100 copies for each of the 12 language groups of the Victims Support Multilanguage brochure.

The Consumer Feedback and Engagement Team (CFET) of ACT Health values the partnership it has developed with the Human Rights Commission. The two bodies meet twice a year to discuss how they can work together to achieve positive outcomes. The commission regularly contacts CFET to find out whether a complaint it has received has also been submitted through the ACT Health consumer feedback management process. This is important as it assists to resolve issues as soon as possible for the consumer.

Liaison with the Human Rights and Regulatory Policy Unit of the Justice and Community Safety Directorate is initiated where staff developing legislation are uncertain about human rights issues and for the routine vetting of draft Bills. Issues identified in any ACT Health Bills as a result of the Legislative Assembly’s scrutiny process are also brought to the attention of relevant staff. In 2012‑13, ACT Health prepared 16 Cabinet submissions, two of which related to legislative proposals for which human rights compatibility statements were sought.

In 2012‑13 ACT Health continued its major review of the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Act 1994, which engages a number of significant human rights issues. Drafting instructions are being completed for the final amendment Bill following release of two exposure draft bills for public consultation in August 2012 and April 2013.

Recommendations for these amendments were made by a Review Advisory Committee comprising more than 40 stakeholder groups, including consumers and carers and ACT Human Rights Commission representatives. The amendments were also endorsed by a Policy Management Team comprising members of the government agencies involved in developing the final amendment Bill and including human rights law policy representation. Compatibility with the Human Rights Act 2004 will be addressed as part of the explanatory statement accompanying the Bill.

In respect of litigation, one application involving ACT Health which raised issues arising under the Human Rights Act came before the ACT Supreme Court in 2012‑13. The application arose from the administration of electro-convulsive therapy without the consumer’s consent. The application before the court claims general damages, aggravated damages and exemplary damages for false imprisonment, assault and battery, and a breach of section 18 of the Human Rights Act 2004. The matter is still before the court.