On 2 May 2022the Minister for Mental Health, Ms Emma Davidson MLA announced an Independent Inquiry into the Legislative, Workplace Governance and Clinical Frameworks at the Dhulwa Mental Health Unit in the ACT.

Ms Barbara Deegan was appointed Chair of the Inquiry and was supported by a Panel including forensic mental health expert and work health and safety expert.

Final Report

The Final report of the Independent Board of Inquiry into the Legislative, Workplace Governance and Clinical Frameworks at the Dhulwa Mental Health Unit in the ACT was presented to the Legislative Assembly on Thursday 1 December 2022.

A copy of the Final report (PDF 780KB) is available to view.

The work of the Board of Inquiry has now been finalised.

The Inquiry Chair

Ms Barbara Deegan was appointed to Chair the Inquiry. Ms Deegan is a former Commissioner of the Fair Work Commission and Commissioner of the Tasmanian Industrial Commission. She held the positions of Assistant Secretary of the Legal Services Group of the Department of Industrial Relations and Principal Registrar of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. Ms Deegan also represented the Australian Government at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva.

Terms of Reference for the Inquiry into the Legislative, Workplace Governance and Clinical Frameworks of Dhulwa Mental Health Unit

It is acknowledged that the existence of complex and unsettled governance arrangements at Dhulwa Mental Health Unit ("Dhulwa") has, inter alia, likely precipitated the existing significant and concerning workplace safety and clinical practice matters.

This Inquiry will provide the opportunity for clarity, and provide clear and consistent applied policy direction, of these arrangements at Dhulwa, and make finding-based recommendations that ensure the safety of all people, in a best practice environment, into the future.

Inquiry Purpose

The Inquiry has been appointed to conduct a review of and examine the existing Legislative, Workplace Governance and Clinical Policy Frameworks at Dhulwa in the context of ensuring a safe workplace and a best practice environment.

The Inquiry will have particular regard to:

  1. The nature, reciprocation and application of the rights of workers and consumers contained within the relevant enabling legislation (including the Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT), Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (ACT), the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and the breadth of ACT Mental Health legislation);
  2. Available evidence and/or expert advice pertaining to the operation of comparable facilities outside the ACT;
  3. The coherence, merits and risks of all Dhulwa workplace, clinical and education policies, procedures, structures and committees, and their current operationalisation and compliance;
  4. Opportunities to improve existing workplace and clinical decision-making frameworks, and ensure their consistent application;
  5. Establishing a draft comprehensive implementation program from finding-based recommendations for consideration; and
  6. A review of any other relevant matters, including contemporary reviews by other agencies, and recent case and case-mix history, as deemed necessary by the Inquiry.

The Inquiry will be assisted by a member with expertise in forensic mental health and a member with expertise in work health and safety.

The Inquiry will be supported by a secretariat from the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate.

The Inquiry will provide a preliminary report, inclusive of initial findings, to the Minister no later than 12 weeks after commencement on the Inquiry, with a final report to be delivered no later than 6 weeks after the delivery of the preliminary report.