Significant changes to mental health law start today in Western Australia
More recognition and rights for families, carers and people with mental illness
Announcing the start of Western Australia's long-awaited new Mental Health Act, Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said today was a day of celebration and an important milestone for people with mental illness and their family and carers.
Mrs Morton said the Mental Health Act 2014, which had been in development for more than a decade, would underpin a broad cultural shift in the management of mental health problems and the treatment of people with mental illness.
"It has been long acknowledged that the previous Act was out of date and not in line with contemporary mental health practice," she said.
"I am glad to see so much enthusiasm and support for the commencement of the Act today.
"For the first time the family and carers who support people with mental illness will have a legal right to be more informed and involved in treatment and care decisions. This is a momentous day for the many people who have advocated on behalf of people experiencing mental illness.
"The Act will enhance the treatment and care of people living with mental illness and strengthen their rights and protections."
The legislation was drafted after extensive State-wide consultation and provides for:
- tele-psychiatric assessment in regional areas
- greater recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and, where applicable, access to culturally appropriate treatment
- extra safeguards for children experiencing mental illness
- a Charter of Mental Health Care Principles to guide and set expectations for mental health services
- new levels of rights protection through the Mental Health Tribunal, the Western Australian Chief Psychiatrist, the Health and Disability Services Complaints Office, and the new Mental Health Advocacy Service.
The Minister said the Mental Health Commission, Office of the Chief Psychiatrist and Department of Health had developed a range of training materials around implementation of the Act. More than 3,500 frontline mental health clinicians have undertaken the training.
A range of other professions and groups have also undertaken targeted training including non-mental health clinicians, ED staff, GPs, Department of Education staff and WA Police.
"I would like to thank all those who have completed training in preparation for the new legislation. I would also like to thank the many thousands of people across Western Australia who contributed to the formulation and implementation of this important new legislation," Mrs Morton said.
The Minister said the new legislation was an integral component of the State Government's mental health agenda to provided increased services and supports in the community.
1,300 written submissions helped inform the drafting of the new law
The Mental Health Act 2014 replaces the Mental Health Act 1996
A 12-month implementation period has helped enable a smooth transition to the Act
Implementation has included the development and delivery of comprehensive education packages and training for clinicians and service providers and targeted information for consumers, families and carers
The Mental Health Bill Implementation Reference Group, chaired by Eric Ripper and prior to him by Dr Judy Edwards, has overseen the implementation process
The reference group includes people with experience of mental illness, families and carers, clinicians and representatives from non-Government organisations and advocacy groups
Minister's office - 6552 6900