Roads to Recovery – Victoria’s Royal Commission into Mental Health

Roads to Recovery – Victoria’s Royal Commission into Mental Health

The Victorian Government is establishing Australia’s first Royal Commission into Mental Health (RCMH). The RCMH is a critical opportunity to look at a system that is not currently working to support people’s personal recovery. At its best, the RCMH has the potential to help shape Victoria’s laws, policies, services and culture into a system that protects and promotes the rights of Victorians experiencing mental health issues or mental distress. It has the potential to inform and build a system that supports people's choices and their recovery in ways that enable them to live the best lives they can, as determined by them.

To make sure the RCMH achieves its potential, we have developed 10 themes that must be within its scope.

1. Consumer leadership and co-production

Consumers – people whose lives are directly affected by the mental health system – should shape and have influence over the process and outcomes of the RCMH. This includes: consumer leadership of the RCMH; processes to ensure that consumers can contribute to and be heard by the RCMH; and embedding consumer leadership in the redesigned mental health system that emerges from the RCMH.

2. The regulation of compulsory treatment – rights and recovery

The RCMH provides an opportunity to consider whether the principles and provisions of the Mental Health Act 2014 (Vic) – including a rights-based and recovery-oriented framework for the delivery of treatment and support – are operating as intended and, if not, how to change this.

3. Services and supports in the community

The RCMH should consider the availability and appropriateness of services and supports in the community, including mental health and interdependent systems such as rehabilitation services, housing and NDIS.

4. Forensic mental health and justice services

The RCMH should consider the way in which the mental health system directly impacts on people’s justice outcomes, including their entry into and exit out of the criminal justice system. This includes early intervention and diversion (including the role of Victoria Police), courts, secure therapeutic facilities, prisons, transition back into the community, and the needs and experiences of young people in the justice system.

5. Overlapping life and legal issues

The RCMH should recognise that the experience of mental health issues can contribute to a broad range of legal issues. The existence of these issues – and the stress they bring with them – can also contribute to or exacerbate mental health issues for people. The RCMH should expressly consider the interaction between people’s mental health and the following legal issues and systems: family violence; child protection; family law; discrimination; fines; housing and tenancy; social security; migration law; and guardianship and administration. 

6. Inpatient services

The RCMH should consider the conditions, physical environment, culture, safety and treatment of people who are hospitalised for their diagnosis or experience of a mental health issue or mental distress.

7. Tailored, appropriate, culturally safe services

The RCMH should consider the need for tailored, appropriate and culturally safe services for groups within our community, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, CALD communities, LGBTIQ people, older Victorians, women and young people. The RCMH’s consideration of the service needs of these priority groups should be informed by engagement with consumers who are members of these communities.

8. Regional issues

The RCMH should consider the way in which a person’s postcode affects the treatment and services available to them.

9. Governance, accountability, data and transparency

The RCMH should consider the effectiveness of the current governance, oversight and accountability mechanisms in the mental health system. It should also consider the lack of publicly available data regarding the mental health system, including data on how many people are subject to compulsory treatment, geographical location, age, gender, cultural background, type and length of order, and complaints. Data is critical to service design, evaluation and consumer choice, and essential to ensure accountability.

10. Models that work

The RCMH should take a social determinants of health approach, and should encourage evidence and ideas about models that work, including prioritising the expertise of people who have directly experienced the mental health system, and contemplating international best practice.

More information 

Read more about the Royal Commission into Mental Health Terms of Reference Consultation on the Engage Victoria website.

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