Hon Christian Porter BA(Hons) BEc LLB(UWA) MSc(Dist)(LSE) MLA

Hon Christian Porter BA(Hons) BEc LLB(UWA) MSc(Dist)(LSE) MLA

Former Treasurer; Attorney General

Hon Helen Morton MLC

Hon Helen Morton MLC

Former Minister for Mental Health; Disability Services; Child Protection

    State Budget 2012-13: Supporting our Community - Mental health court diversion program first for WA

    19/05/2012 12:00 AM
    • $6.7million court diversion program for people with mental illness at Perth courts
    • Placing mental health experts in Perth Children’s Court

    Adults and children with mental illness will be diverted into treatment services when facing criminal charges at Perth’s Magistrates’ Court and Children’s Court.

    The first of its kind in Western Australia, the Mental Health Court Diversion Program has been allocated $5million over two years in the 2012-13 State Budget for services in adult courts.

    Headed by a full-time magistrate and supported by a team of professionals providing assessments, individualised treatment and liaison to community mental health services, the program aims to reduce re-offending by people with moderate or severe mental illness and divert them away from prison.

    In addition, $1.7million over two years has been allocated for mental health experts to be placed at the Perth Children’s Court for an early intervention pilot program to support the needs of the court, providing timely assessments, referrals and treatment.

    Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said it was essential to identify young offenders early and get them essential services for their illness.

    “Too often these people are inappropriately and expensively caught up in the criminal justice system, when they should be receiving effective mental health care,” Mrs Morton said.

    “Traditional methods of sentencing have little impact on people with mental illness and often fail to address the cause of the offending behaviours.”

    Attorney General Christian Porter said several diversion options existed within the courts, however the mental health diversion and support program was the first of its kind in WA.

    “About 3,600 adults who come before the metropolitan magistrates’ courts have a serious mental illness. This program will complement existing services and fill a gap that is not currently met,” Mr Porter said.

          Fact File

    • 60,000 adults charged with criminal offences faced Perth Magistrates’ Court in 2009-10
    • An estimated 25% of these had a mental illness in the past year
    • It is estimated 3,600 people appearing before the metropolitan magistrates courts each year have a serious mental illness
    • 2,500 juveniles appeared before the Perth Children’s Court in 2009-10
    • 26% of these juveniles estimated to have had a mental illness in the past year
    • 50% of juveniles in custody could be experiencing a mental illness
    • WA Budget statements are available at http://www.ourstatebudget.wa.gov.au

    Minister's office - 6550 6900