APS recommendations from Esther Foundation inquiry supported by Western Australian Government

Australian Psychological Society

The expertise of the APS, psychologists and our call for a trauma-informed approach in alcohol and other drug (AOD) services have been recognised this month. The Western Australia (WA) Government has announced all recommendations in the report of the inquiry into the Esther Foundation and unregulated AOD private health facilities will be supported.

This important news will change how private health services are regulated in WA and will have beneficial impact for many vulnerable Western Australians and their families. It is expected that other states and territories will also take an interest in this outcome when considering changes to their own AOD services.

Our advocacy

In June 2022, the APS was invited by the WA Government to respond to the inquiry into the Esther Foundation and unregulated private health facilities.

We commended the establishment of this inquiry as an avenue for former Esther House residents to be heard.

We also commended the inquiry for providing an opportunity for the Government to seek guidance about the regulatory and legislative reforms needed to ensure all AOD service providers in WA deliver treatments that are safe and of high quality, as per the National Quality Framework for Drug and Alcohol Treatment Services.

Former APS President Tamara Cavenett also appeared on Channel 9’s Under Investigation program examining Esther House.

Our recommendations were accepted

We are pleased to see that the WA Government’s position on this matter aligns with our recommendations calling for the establishment of contemporary legislative and regulatory safeguards for private mental health and AOD services.

We are also pleased to see recognition of the need for more effective complaints management for non-registered health workers to ensure public health and safety.

The APS commends the Government’s support for introducing legislation that prohibits harmful conversion practices and establishes supports for survivors of such practices.

Next steps

The WA Department of Health will conduct a statutory review of the Private Hospitals and Health Services Act 1927 (the PHHSA Act) in consultation with the sector to inform regulatory reform.

The Committee also recommended the Health and Disability Services (Complaints) Act 1995 be amended to provide the Health and Disability Services Complaints Office (HaDSCO) with greater powers to handle concerns about organisations that provide health services.

Thank you to the victim-survivors who courageously shared their stories, as well as our members and colleagues who worked tirelessly on this issue.

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