The National Association of Practising Psychiatrists is opposed to the proposed legislation (Covid-19 [Emergency Measures] Act 2020 Bill) in Victoria that gives unfettered powers of detention to ‘authorised officers’ who are not sworn members of the Victoria Police Service, and are not subject to court oversight or review. Authorised officers need no special experience or training – they are individuals just appointed by the Secretary of the Health Department. NAPP does not consider that this legislation is necessary, as public order and compliance with health directions can already be enforced by current public order legislation administered by the Victoria Police Service.
The proposed legislation is likely to discriminate against and target individuals who, as a result of mental health conditions sometimes have difficulty complying with complex public health regulations. NAPP does not consider that special legislation is needed for these situations. The current Mental Health Act and public order powers of the Victoria Police are fully sufficient to deal with these matters. The proposed legislation is unnecessary, excessively coercive, and open to arbitrary decisions about detention. It is not needed to control the Covid-19 pandemic. It has no place in modern Victoria.
Dr Philip Morris AM