Reforms introduced to ease court delays

Measures aimed at reducing the backlog of forensic psychiatric assessments in the State’s courts have been introduced to State Parliament.

Attorney-General, Vickie Chapman said the proposed laws would help ensure courts had timely access to information when dealing with high-risk offenders, and those sex offenders who are either unwilling or unable to control their sexual instincts.

“In March 2017 when the Labor Party was notified of this issue, they failed to deliver a solution to this substantial problem.

“In stark contrast however, when I became aware of this issue, I acted as quickly as possible, getting all of the relevant players around the table to work on a tangible outcome,” Ms Chapman said.

 “The Marshall Liberal Government’s first priority will always be keeping the community safe, which is why I have been working to find a solution that ensures reports can be delivered to the court in a more timely fashion, while still ensuring the same high level of quality advice is prepared.”

Attorney-General Chapman said that, under the proposed changes, registered psychologists would be able to provide reports under the Criminal Law (High Risk Offenders) Act for the court to consider when hearing matters involving whether an extended supervision order should be imposed on a high-risk offender.

“By allowing registered psychologists to prepare some reports – under the governance of the clinical director – this will free up our forensic psychiatrists to finalise more complex reports in a timelier manner.”

“This model has been developed in conjunction with Forensic Mental Health and is designed to free up resources so that our forensic psychiatrists can focus on the more complex matters relating to high-risk offenders and, under the Sentencing Act, specifically those sex offenders alleged to be unable or unwilling to control their sexual instincts,” Ms Chapman said.

In consultation with and on the advice of the Clinical Director of the Forensic Mental Health Services, other changes have been made including:

  • The introduction of a new Court Assessment and Diversion model. Bringing appropriately trained forensic nurses into the new model who, under the supervision of the Consultant Forensic Psychiatrists will divert about 40% of assessments currently undertaken by psychiatrists.
  • An increase of the remuneration rate currently paid to forensic psychiatrists for the preparation of complex reports relating to high risk offenders and those unable to control their sexual instincts.
  • SA Health has provided significant new funding to employ an additional psychiatrist to support the new forensic court assessment and diversion model.

“We call on the Labor Party to support the quick passage of this legislation through the Parliament to ensure the delays caused by their inaction can be fixed as soon as possible,” Ms Chapman said.