Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (13:15): I too am very pleased to rise to speak to this motion. I had the privilege of meeting Ron Fenton and Yogi a year or so ago. Not only did Yogi bring joy to Ron and assist Ron, he actually really could fill a room. He was a really wonderful—I do not know; yes, you can say it—charismatic dog. He really was—
Mr Grimley: Beautiful eyes.
Ms PATTEN: Gorgeous, gorgeous eyes. I think, listening to the story about the background of the connection between Benni and Yogi and Ron, it has got all the makings of a great film. I was just thinking while I was sitting in the chair who would play Ron. I am putting my hand up for Sam Neill for Ron; I think he would be happy with that. But it also reminded me of another film, where we saw the beautiful work that dogs can do as therapy. I think I would commend a film called Backtrack Boys, which again showed that relationship that dogs and people can have and the therapeutic effect—nigh on medical effect—that they can have. It really is wonderful to see, and I am really pleased that Mr Grimley is advocating on this issue. I am pleased to see the ministers in the chamber as well, so I certainly hope that we do see moves in this area.
We have seen dogs being used in a whole range of areas. We are seeing assistance dogs being provided to victims and witnesses in the courts now. We are seeing dogs in the prison system, and certainly Mr O’Donohue referred back to the Bathurst trial. We are seeing that dogs in the court system have actually had a really positive impact particularly on the victims of crime, where they can calm them and they can reduce the trauma of the whole experience. In actual fact it has reduced the instances of retrials, so it has had a very clear impact in that area.
But directly to Mr Grimley’s motion about those that are suffering from post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI), we know that our frontline workers are really over-represented in those statistics and we need to be doing everything to prevent that. But we also need to be doing everything that we can to look at those new and emerging treatments and services, and in many ways WorkSafe is one of the perfect places to be doing that. Certainly I have raised this here, and just in the brief few minutes I have left I would just also like to raise some other emerging therapies, and those include MDMA. Now, someone said to me, ‘That’s like puppies and pingers’, this speech, but it is absolutely not. These are, absolutely, trained assistance dogs who are trained in the way that we heard Benni had trained Yogi—extraordinary. And when I talk about MDMA I am talking about a pharmaceutical-grade drug in a controlled, clinical setting with a therapist, so it bears no relation. It is working and we have the evidence, yet every time we have actually tried to see this new emerging therapy being used, particularly for PTSI, it has been refused by WorkSafe and many other organisations.
In the US they are in stage 3 trials for MDMA therapy for PTSI, and that is going to the Food and Drug Administration at the moment. It is running out of the University of California plus the University of New York. It is showing extraordinary results, single-treatment results—one treatment and they are getting results. They are literally curing PTSI through this substance. I implore the government that we do look at these non-established, new or emerging treatments and services, NeNETS, that Mr Grimley has raised today in the like of therapy dogs. But I would certainly like to see other treatments that are also doing this. We have got 35 clinical psychiatrists in Australia now seeking to use MDMA for this exact thing. I commend this motion, and I hope it opens the door for new and emerging therapies, particularly for people with PTSI and particularly for our frontline workers.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Mr Grimley’s motion 15/9/21