August 31, 2011
Most disappointing to see that the PSO Bill (the Justice Legislation Amendment (Protective Services Officers) Bill 2011) passed early this morning. The Greens did however get the Bill to committee which was great and it was debated til just after 4am!
Thanks to everyone who helped publicise the campaign and who wrote to their local members, the Minister & others opposing giving PSO’s mental health-specific powers.
As the amendments to the Mental Health Act have now become a sad reality, the focus of our campaign will now be to get the message out (& keep the pressure on the government) to let them know we’re disappointed the amendments went through but that we’ll be monitoring the implementation of these new laws which will take effect on 1 July 2012. Big questions remain about the training PSOs will receive, as well as policies and procedures for exercising the significant powers they will now have & how they will interface with the powers of police and mental health professionals.
We can only hope that Victoria doesn’t have its own tragic case like that of Charles Hill in San Francisco. Charles was a homeless person who also had mental health issues who was fatally shot by transit police (BART Police) after appearing unsteady on his feet on a train platform.
See the CCTV footage of the incident on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbZkcSGJnSM (please note the footage does not show Charles himself, only the BART police officer)
See also the insightful open letter written by a doctor who had known and treated Charles: http://oaklandlocal.com/posts/2011/08/open-letter-sf-concerning-former-patient-shot-killed-bart-police-community-voices
I will be updating the MHLC’s website also. Don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss.