It’s Law Week and Schizophrenia Awareness Week.
Thank you to all our members and supporters who have been working to improve the situation for people with mental illness, particularly those with alcohol and other drug issues and criminal justice involvement.
We need You (yes, You!) at Parliament House on Wednesday 18th May at 1.45pm.
Why? To support the implementation of a Court Intervention Program for people with mental impairment.
Why? Because someday, someone with mental illness whom you care about, may need this service.
On Wednesday 18th May, Alison Xamon from The Greens is putting forward a Motion in the Legislative Council in support of a Court Intervention Program for people with mental impairment and she will be calling on the Barnett Government to support the Motion.
Alison attended a MHM2 Community Discussion Evening in mid-2010 following which she supported us in putting petitions to the Legislative Council and put forward the Motion in respect of a Court Intervention Program.
We thank Alison for her support.
Mental Health is everybody’s business and should be a key issue for all political parties. MHM2 is committed to ensuring that the issues – and solutions – are brought to the attention of decision-makers. Let’s look at how MHM2, its members and supporters have been doing just that.
- JUNE 2009 – The Law Reform Commission (LRC) released Report 96 on Intervention Programs. Chapter 4 included 4 recommendations about Court Intervention Programs for people with mental impairment.
- SEPTEMBER 2009: The LRC Report was tabled in Parliament to………DEAFENING SILENCE
- DECEMBER 2009: MentalHealthMatters2 convened after letter from a concerned parent was published in The West Australian.
- FEBRUARY 2010: First MHM2 meeting held at Mt Hawthorn. Presentations by Ann White, WAAMH and Lisa Duffy, Law & Justice Dept., Edith Cowan Uni.
- APRIL 2010: MHM2 resolved to focus on ‘the most vulnerable’ individuals and their families due to high number of contacts from this group. These are people with co-occurring chronic and persistent mental illnesses and alcohol and other drug issues as well as likely involvement with the criminal justice involvement due to ineffective early intervention and treatment.
- June 2010: Sandy Boulter from the Mental Health Law Centre spoke with the group re criminalisation of the mentally ill. MHM2 held strategic planning session. Decision taken to focus on the implementation of Recs 22-25 of the Law Reform Commission Report 96
- JULY 2010 MHM2 members met with Neil Guard Acting Mental Health Commissioner and presented him with a submission from 20 courageous individuals & family members who had written personal accounts of their experiences in the MH system.
- SEPT 2010: MHM2 held Discussion Evening with presentation from Principal Solicitor, Mental Health Law Centre, Sandra Boulter, Topic: ‘Mad, Bad or Just Too Hard’ – Mental Health and the Criminal Justice System
- JUNE 2010 to DECEMBER 2010: Various strategies were implemented to raise the issue of a CIP and the needs of ‘the most vulnerable’ individuals and family
- 2nd meeting held with Neil Guard, A/MH Commissioner and Dr Lesley van Schoubroeck, Director of Organisational Reform, Mental Health Commission.
- AUGUST 19TH Mr Eddie Bartnik, the new Mental Health Commissioner attends a Whole Group Meeting just 3 days after taking on his new job (Go Eddie!).
- Community Discussion Evenings are held monthly
- DURING 2010: MHM2 support based grew with support and participation from all sectors of the community: mental health service users, carers & families, service providers, public sector workers. The West Australian letters page published letters from MHM2 members highlighting the issues experiences by themselves and their families. Participation in talk-back radio by group members.
- MHM2 members contributed actively to The West Australian Agenda investigative journalism features on mental health .
- Submissions were made by members to the Towards 2020 document highlighting the need for a CIP to focus on treatment rather than imprisonment.
- MHM2 members attended forums, public meetings – speaking up to highlighti the need for a CIP to stop those ‘most vulnerable’ being imprisoned when what they need is treatment.
- MHM2 Group Convenor, Margaret Doherty, is appointed Carer Rep on the ‘Expert Group’ for the Review of the Mental Health Bill. Presentations are made at various forums including Family Forum, Alison Xamon’s Roundtable on Mental Health legislation, WAAMH Recovery Forum.
- SEPTEMBER 2010: Petitions raised and presented to Legislative Council by Alison Xamon, Greens Member calling for the implementation of a CIP. Alison notified the Legislative Council of her intention to move the Motion "that this House call upon the Attorney General to urgentl adopt the Recommendation 23 of the Law Reform Commission Final Report Court Intervention Programs: Project no. 96 (June 2009) and establish a mental impairment court intervention program in Western Australia".
- October 2010: World Mental Health Day: MHM2 members appeared on Channel 10 news with Mr Paul Papalia, then Shadow Corrective Services Minister, highlighting lack of mental health support for people with chronic mental illnesses and how they then become involved in the criminal justice system as a result of ineffective or no support.
- Mental Health Week: Motion was raised in the Legislative Assembly by the Opposition re Government’s neglect of the mental health system. MHM2 group members were in the gallery to support the debate and met Members of Parliament.
- Mental Health Good Outcomes Awards Oct 2010: MHM2 was nominated as a finalist in the John Da Silva Carers Award.
- JANUARY 2011: Continued group member participation in Mental Health forums including those on Personalisation.
- FEBRUARY 2011: MHM2 1st Anniversary – a public meeting was held addressed by Mental Health Commissioner, Mr Eddie Bartnik and attended by politicans, families and individuals and community supporters. Discussion focussed on ‘Solutions for Mental Health Reform’. Stimulating discussion and great birthday cake.
- MARCH 2011 Letter received from the Standing Committee on Environment and Public Affairs, Parliament House following up on the petition to the Legislative Council. It read: "The Attorney General advises that ‘my preference and intention is that the recommendations contained in Chapter Four [of the
Law Reform Commission of WA report] be implemented in a staged manner, commencing with the establishment of a mental impairment court intervention program in the Perth Magistrates Court’. "
- MHM2 representatives attended meeting with The Honourable Chief Justice Wayne Martin to discuss the LRC Recommendations 22-25.
- APRIL 2011 The West Australian newspaper reported (19th April) that the Mental Health Minister Helen Morton "fully supports" introducing a CIP for people with mental illnesses and that the matter was urgent with people with mental illness through WA courts in record numbers.
- APRIL 2011 MHM2 meets with Minister Morton to reiterate the needs of those with mental illness, particularly those with co-occurring alcohol and other drug issues.
Are we there yet? No…not yet…but we now have Ministers making written and public commitments. It’s a good start.
So it’s a good time to say ‘Well Done so far’ to all of you – our group members who have contributed at forums, by emails, in person, phone, letters to us, the Mental Health Commission and your local politicans regarding this issue. You have shared of your experiences with wisdom and courage in an effort to see the situation improve for those who are most vulnerable.
Thank you also to our supporters in various roles who work to improve the situation from within their organisations.
The issue is now firmly on the table. We need to clarify timing, resourcing and model.
Please support MHM2 on Wednesday 18th May at 1.45pm at Parliament House. Please send this onto your contacts and encourage them to join us there too.
- People with mental disorders often stuck in jail instead of psych ward, says Quebec watchdog (theprovince.com)
- Mentally ill often stuck in jail: Quebec watchdog (canada.com)
- Predicting how much impact mental illness has in a person’s life (kevinmd.com)
- She’s mentally ill, not a criminal (ask.metafilter.com)