Mental Health Minister Graham Jacobs today announced an extra $336,250 in funding for mental health training and research in the justice system.
Dr Jacobs said the funding was in keeping with the State Government’s aim that all government sectors were equipped to adequately respond to mental health problems.
“People with mental illnesses are over-represented in the criminal justice system. In Western Australia, an estimated 25 per cent of those in custody are being treated for a mental illness,” he said.
“The Government recognises the need for a suitable level of mental health training for specialist staff working with those experiencing a mental illness.
“By increasing current levels of training in the criminal justice system, people with a mental illness in our prisons and courts will have a greater chance of receiving the care they need to manage their condition.
“Evidence shows providing appropriate treatment for criminal offenders with a mental illness reduces the length of their time served and chances of reoffending.
“Clearly, improving mental health outcomes for people in the justice system will benefit not only the individual, but the community at large.”
The Mental Health Commission funding includes:
· $117,250 to provide customised training for at least 400 court staff and 100 workers from the Public Trustees’ Office and the Office of the Public Advocate to identify and respond to people with mental health issues
· $72,000 for mental health first aid training to enable peer-support prisoners to more effectively support prisoners experiencing mental health problems
· $75,000 to update the ‘Equality Before the Law Bench Book’ and assist judges in their decision-making role
· $35,000 for risk-assessment training to mental health and prison counselling staff
· research on the needs of prisoners in WA.
“The research will fill a gap in current knowledge and improve the Government’s capacity to respond to mental health issues in the justice system,” the Minister said.
“Overall, the funding will assist in partnerships and collaborations across government departments, service providers and prisons.”
Minister's office - 9213 6900