Hon Helen Morton MLC

Hon Helen Morton MLC

Former Minister for Mental Health; Disability Services; Child Protection

    New Mental Health Act benefits regional WA

    30/11/2015 9:05 AM
    • Greater access and recognition for people living in regional and remote areas
    • Consumers, carers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people benefit 

    Mental Health Minister Helen Morton today announced landmark developments in mental health treatment and care for people living in regional and remote Western Australia.


    Mrs Morton said the new Mental Health Act 2014, which formally takes effect today, would increase access to treatment, deliver new protections for people living in regional areas and introduce new recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


    "This is a significant reform in mental health care because for the first time people experiencing mental illness, and their families and carers now have the right to be more informed and involved in treatment and care decisions," she said.


    "The Act will also benefit regional and remote communities by removing existing barriers to the use of video-conferencing technology.  This will reduce the need to transport people away from their local communities for mental health assessment and examination. 


    "This is an important step in delivering more immediate treatment and care for people living outside Perth, and will reduce the need for them to leave their communities to seek treatment."


    The new Act also recognises the need for clinicians and services to be sensitive and responsive to the needs of Aboriginal people.


    Where practicable and appropriate, assessment, examination and treatment planning for a person of Aboriginal descent must be carried out in collaboration with indigenous mental health workers, and significant members of the person's community, including elders and traditional healers.


    "This will deliver greater genuine involvement for families and carers in the treatment of their loved ones as we seek to keep people out of acute hospital settings and in their community closer to home," the Minister said.


    The legislation was drafted after extensive State-wide consultation, including 20 forums in regional areas, to ensure the needs of people outside Perth were reflected in the new legislation.


    The Act also includes: 

    • extra safeguards for children experiencing mental illness
    • a new 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. 

    Fact File

    • 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, as well as 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
    • For more information, visit http://www.mhc.wa.gov.au  

    Minister's office - 6552 6900