New independent mental health advocacy service

New independent mental health advocacy service

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

We have reached agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services to deliver an independent mental health advocacy service.

Director Civil Justice, Access and Equity Kristen Hilton said the new service is the first of its kind in Victoria and will support the goals of the Mental Health Act 2014.

‘Independent advocates employed by the service will work with people diagnosed with a mental illness, who are receiving compulsory treatment, and provide support to make or participate in decisions about treatment, care and recovery,’ Kristen said.

‘It is a serious step for people to be detained and to receive psychiatric treatment against their will.

‘It is vital that people subject to compulsory treatment have a say about their treatment, care and recovery, are supported to express their treatment preferences, and have their wishes considered, respected and where possible, followed.’

Kristen said the independent mental health advocacy service will not be a legal service.

’We are  looking forward to the opportunity to deliver the new services. Twenty two per cent of people helped by Victoria Legal Aid last year disclosed a mental illness or disability, and advocating for this group to be heard in the justice system has always been an important focus of our work.

‘The new service also aligns with our objectives: supporting people who are experiencing disadvantage, giving early and timely help, ensuring people know about their rights and options, and supporting them if they need to access other services. 

‘Many details of the new service are still being worked out, and in these early stages we are committed to talking and listening to mental health consumers and the services that already support them,’ Kristen said.

More information

Recruitment for a program manager to lead the new service is now underway. To apply see Manager, Independent Mental Health Advocacy Service.

For an overview of our work with people who have been diagnosed with a mental illness, see Mental Health Week: how Victoria Legal Aid helps with legal problems

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