The ACT Government has advised its chief psychiatrist is reviewing the “individual circumstances” around the stabbings at the ANU earlier this week.
Alex Leonard Ophel is accused of being behind the incident, which has left two women in hospital with knife wounds. Two men were also injured after they were allegedly attacked with a frypan.
Ophel was previously found not guilty by way of mental impairment following two trials after attacking several people with a baseball bat on the ANU campus in 2017.
Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury explained the Chief Psychiatrist had been brought into this matter at the specific request of the government.
“We are limited in the way we can talk about the individual [allegedly] involved, but the Chief Psychiatrist will be able to look at the circumstances, both in the lead-up to this matter and how this individual [allegedly] came to be where he was at the time of the incident,” he said.
“That will give us a clear view of the circumstances and whether there are any matters that are systemic beyond the individual circumstances of the person [alleged to be] involved.”
Mr Rattenbury said the government was particularly interested in determining how Ophel was able to make his way to the ANU campus and the decisions made up to that point.
“[We’ll also] consider whether the safety provisions that were in place around this individual were met and if there are any systemic issues that arise from the circumstances,” he said.
Due to the ongoing criminal investigation, Mr Rattenbury could not confirm whether Ophel was still being supervised under the Mental Health Act 2015 or, if he was, what supervision requirements he had to adhere to.
The government has advised it would convene a dedicated working group to action any issues identified as a result of the Chief Psychiatrist’s review.
The Chief Psychiatrist, assisted by the ACT Care Coordinator, is responsible for administering and monitoring the use of the Mental Health Act 2015.
They’re also in charge of monitoring and improving the delivery and standard of mental health care in the Territory, monitoring the treatment and care of patients, conducting inspections and investigations and setting out the functions of delegates and mental health officers.
No timeline has been given for the completion of this review, but it’s expected to take a few months.
The Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Mental Health received a briefing this morning from the Chief Police Officer and officials from Canberra Health Services.
Mr Rattenbury said police were also investigating the circumstances around the attack.
It’s understood the university and police had no indications the campus could be a target before the incident on Monday.
The Chief Minister also met with ANU Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt this morning, where security has been increased.
Despite what has occurred, Mr Rattenbury wanted to assure ANU students and the community that the campus was safe.
“Canberra is a very safe city … [this] is a very rare incident for the ACT,” he said.
“We don’t believe there is any ongoing risk to the university.”
A range of mental health support services are available to Canberrans:
- Lifeline is a telephone crisis support service available by calling 13 11 14
- Mindmap is a mental health portal for people under 25, available by calling 1800 862 111
- Safehaven is a free walk-in centre available to anyone in the ACT. No Medicare card is required. The clinic is open from 3 pm to 10 pm, Tuesday to Saturday, and is located at 56 Lathlain St, Belconnen.