Access by Various artists

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Access: Patients X, Y and Z

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  • Hilary Stace,

    Been into the court a few times this week. It can't be any fun giving evidence. You can be under the spotlight for days, grilled by counsel who are in their regular cultural environment and familiar with the workplace while for many of those who give evidence they must be well outside their comfort zone. They are probably also thinking of all those urgent jobs which are building up while they are trying to explain their professional or personal knowledge in a way that those in the court can understand. There is a lot of miscommunication about language and the meanng of words and terms. They have to be constantly alert, otherwise they might fall into a trap that has been set.

    But saying all that there is an important principle at stake here in this case. It is expressed in Article 14 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that NZ ratified in 2008, meaning that this is effectively NZ law since then:

    Article 14 - Liberty and security of the person

    1. States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others:
    a.Enjoy the right to liberty and security of person;
    b.Are not deprived of their liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily, and that any deprivation of liberty is in conformity with the law, and that the existence of a disability shall in no case justify a deprivation of liberty.

    2. States Parties shall ensure that if persons with disabilities are deprived of their liberty through any process, they are, on an equal basis with others, entitled to guarantees in accordance with international human rights law and shall be treated in compliance with the objectives and principles of this Convention, including by provision of reasonable accommodation.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3087 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    There is always a reason for behaviour. Is has context and does not occur in a vacuum. The purpose could be to gain something, access something, escape from something, remove something, or a result of pain or boredom. Or it just feels good.
    When trying to change behaviour positive reinforcement works better than punishment. Being alert to what triggers behaviour (antecedents) means it may be possible to divert undesirable behaviour at that point with appropriate strategies. It is very important to check out whether there are medical reasons such as untreated infection or pain. Much behaviour is as a result of boredom which can be addressed by active engagement. (I learnt all this by listening to the speaker Angela mentioned above but can apply to any behaviour in children or adults).

    Yet in our mental health system we seem to go straight to punishment, seclusion or other negative reactions.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3087 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    I have a feeling that the Ministry of Health is seeking some guidance and answers through this court case. Something that they can also apply to Ashley's situation. They seem a bit stuck.
    They will be summing up next week and then it will probably be a few weeks while the judge writes her judgement.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3087 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    Yet in our mental health system we seem to go straight to punishment, seclusion or other negative reactions.

    I suspect "mental health" could be replaced by "government" without losing anything. The only people Parliament regularly consider in need of positive reinforcement are themselves, in the form of money and perks. Everyone else responds better to the lash.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 997 posts Report Reply

  • Angela Hart, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    I have a feeling that the Ministry of Health is seeking some guidance and answers through this court case. Something that they can also apply to Ashley’s situation. They seem a bit stuck.

    umm, well here's the latest on Ashley's situation
    https://www.change.org/p/the-house-of-representatives-a-life-for-ashley-peacock/u/17652242?tk=LXIBMfoLjLr57X7G21CXWIuxV6PBxhh58HWGP6GPAt8&utm_source=petition_update&utm_medium=email

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 608 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Apologies to the security guards who have actually been very polite and friendly to me each day. Today the security post has shifted further along the corridor. You still need to go through it to get to Court Room 6 (which has adjourned until summing up next week) but there must be some action in one of the other rooms they need to monitor more closely.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3087 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Kirsty Johnston's latest article features a letter from Garth Bennie from the disability providers' network to the Minister of Health warning that the situation has similarities to that before the first Mason report in the 1980s. Annette King says at that time they first had to acknowledge that there was a crisis. Current government does not.
    http://m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11701216

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3087 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Case closing summaries tomorrow and Thursday. Tony Ellis second.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3087 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Parliament's Justice and Electoral Committee has just recommended that NZ sign the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. So when finally signed another avenue for redress for individuals will open up.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3087 posts Report Reply

  • Angela Hart,

    That's great news Hilary, let's hope that the Government follows this recommendation.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 608 posts Report Reply

  • Angela Hart,

    in her closing submissions in the High Court in Wellington this morning, the Attorney-General's lawyer, Martha Coleman, insisted there was no medical malpractice and psychiatrists often consulted with the men.

    "There's no suggestion of any systemic failure," she told the court.

    "[The men] have been treated with the utmost respect and dignity."

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/312308/suing-mental-health-patients-treated-with-'dignity'

    So, why then, would they feel the need to go to all the trouble and expense of taking their case to the Courts? The Crown would probably argue that black is white.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 608 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Tony Ellis didn’t get to start his closing submissions till this afternoon so will continue tomorrow. It is quite a sad case. I’m not sure whether the people in the court realise just how powerless disabled people with intellectual disability and autism, largely estranged from family, unable to advocate for themselves, and incarcerated by the State, really are.

    I guess it comes down to whether you feel the system is benign or not. As I listened to proceedings I kept thinking would we be happy if this happened to us, or members of our family? I wouldn’t.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3087 posts Report Reply

  • Angela Hart, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    it comes down to whether you feel the system is benign or not

    there's the rub. There's a great deal of talk and lofty ideals but at the chalkface the decisions are not made on the basis of what is best for the individual disabled person. Decision making is tightly constrained by Ministry rules and requirements which always limit and often totally prevent the implementation of sensible solutions. It has taken me years of interaction with it to realise that the system is not benign. I'm a slow learner!
    And the powerlessness of which you speak is inherent at every level. Anyone with a disability who needs any kind of state funded assistance or support (except those on ACC) is fundamentally powerless. There are no entitlements.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 608 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    I didn't attend the final day but the case seems to have finished in a sort of postponement dependent on a decision by parliament on an appeal court ruling on the case brought by Arthur Taylor about prisoners voting. It is something to do with the implications of the NZ Bill of Rights Act (the Act that was sidelined for the Family Carers' Case).

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1507/S00229/taylor-v-ag-prison-voting-law-inconsistent-bill-of-rights.htm

    So it is rather ironic that justice for one group of incarcerated people depends on parliament ruling on another group of incarcerated people. The Taylor case related to the 2010 Act removing the right to vote of remand and people imprisoned for less than three years, which was championed by former National MP Paul Quinn. Incidentally, I heard that Arthur Taylor, who has a sharp legal mind, but has spent much of his life in jail, was first incarcerated by the State as a child in the Epuni Boys' Home.

    It all reflects the intertwined complexity of a broken system. State created the problems; State can fix.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3087 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Angela Hart,

    It has taken me years of interaction with it to realise that the system is not benign. I'm a slow learner!

    You are way ahead of most people who have never had to deal with it, don't worry. Unfortunately that puts a huge up-front awareness burden on any public-supported political action to change things for the better.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19362 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Very sad to hear about Kevin Hague's resignation from Parliament. He really understood about the injustices and inhumanity of the mental health system and has been a champion for a major review - something which is desperately needed. He has been a vocal supporter of Ashley's too.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3087 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    A People's Review of the Mental Health System has been started back by Action Station.

    https://actionstation.typeform.com/to/lXJ1sb

    Also a Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/peoplesmentalhealthreview/

    Crowd sourcing stories and activism.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3087 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Ombudsman has ruled that CCDHB delaying an OIA response to Kirtsy Johnston about Ashley Peackock broke the law. Proactive attention to compliance from now on will include naming and shaming.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19362 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    It seems like the UN Conventions aren't as powerful as I had imagined. They are more a moral than legal guideline. Internal NZ legal processes have to be exhausted before an appeal can be made to the UN . Even the NZ Bill of Rights Act does not enshrine human rights effectively enough to overturn the anti-human rights aspects of the very dangerous and outdated Mental Health Act.

    So we need to support Geoffrey Palmer's new constitution which will hopefully enshrine human rights more securely. And get rid of (review/repeal) the terrible 1992 Mental Health (Compulsory Care) Act.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3087 posts Report Reply

  • Angela Hart, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    Internal NZ legal processes have to be exhausted before an appeal can be made to the UN .

    So the Family Carers legislation could be appealed to the UN, whereas at present there is nowhere to go to change it.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 608 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Angela Hart,

    in her closing submissions in the High Court in Wellington this morning, the Attorney-General’s lawyer, Martha Coleman, insisted there was no medical malpractice and psychiatrists often consulted with the men.

    “There’s no suggestion of any systemic failure,” she told the court.

    “[The men] have been treated with the utmost respect and dignity.”

    Damn near ran the Bus off the road to Taputaputa when that particular wee gem was broadcast. Dearie me, ain't the Law (and all who sail in her) an ass?

    I know lawyers are paid to to argue for their client regardless of the actual truth, but it concerns me that some lawyers seem to be able to defend the indefensible with such genuine enthusiasm.

    Perhaps, some might benefit by a little actual experience of what the plaintiffs endured....a couple of weeks in seclusion would do it....pissing into a bucket and sleeping on the floor...forced medication...?

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1269 posts Report Reply

  • Angela Hart, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    There's no doubt in my mind that most of the decision makers and those who advise them are so far removed from our world that really they have no clue. They may think they do, but they are deluded. Some indefinite but compulsory time spent experiencing the realities would do them and us a world of good.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 608 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    forced medication

    wonder if there any drugs that provide a heightened conscience?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19362 posts Report Reply

  • Angela Hart, in reply to Sacha,

    or even just a conscience

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 608 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    This policy of assessment and treatment of mental health issues of prisoners is a good start. Huge problem. However, there are some worrying aspects such as that people with ID will be moved to other facilities. That might mean they are locked up for ever. Also we can't forget Judith Collins' punitive comments about the autistic man charged after the September Christchurch earthquake. Although maybe she has learnt from that?

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/84031898/more-than-90pc-of-prisoners-have-suffered-mental-health-or-substance-use-issues

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3087 posts Report Reply

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