Government Fails on Mental Health


1st January 1999

The Member for Lismore, Thomas George was disappointed the Carr Government voted down a motion in Parliament yesterday which called for the recognition of the crisis facing Courts which are being forced to hold mentally ill people in custody.

Mr George said the crisis facing magistrates, particularly on the North Coast, who are being forced to throw mentally ill people in jail for up to six weeks while waiting a psychiatric assessment, should be considered a priority by the Government.

"I am extremely disappointed that the Government is unwilling to give recognition and support to this most serious issue", Mr George said.

"This is a statewide problem and particularly bad on the North Coast.

Magistrates and friends and families of people with a mental illness have told me that the current wait for psychiatric assessment is about six weeks and people are being kept in custody during that time.

This matter has been raised by Magistrate Jeff Linden from Lismore - who has expressed his frustration at the lack of services for the mentally ill.

The Motion which was moved on 25 May, and was debated yesterday, stated:

That this House:

1. Notes with concern that courts are being forced to retain people with a mental illness in custody for up to six weeks because of a lack of access to psychiatric assessment and treatment.

2. Calls on the Carr Government to commit the necessary resources to ensure courts can access psychiatric services for people appearing before them.

I cannot understand how any member of this Parliament would not note with concern that people are being forced to be held in custody because they cannot obtain psychiatric assessment.

By voting against the motion, the Government has said that it will not commit the necessary resources to ensure that courts can access psychiatric services for the people appearing before them.

The Government has failed to acknowledge the problems confronting people with mental illness and those who are trying to do the right thing by them.

Contact Details:

Office: 55 Carrington Street  LISMORE
Postal: PO Box 52  LISMORE  NSW  2480
Telephone: 1800 336 166 or 02 6621 3624
Facsimile: 02 6622 1403  Email:

Authorised by Thomas George MP. Funded using Parliamentary entitlements.