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Advocacy Matters: IMHA Independent Mental Health Advocacy

We're nearly there ...

Our Independent Mental Health Advocacy team have spent the last month ensuring everything will go as smoothly as possible when the new service officially gets underway on Monday 31 August.

The new service will be supporting people who are subject to compulsory treatment to have as much say as possible over their assessment, treatment and recovery.

Three senior advocates and seven advocates are now on board. The entire team have been taking part in an induction program, including one full day produced by mental health consumers, to get ready for the beginning of the service.

'We have also been meeting with leaders in mental health services to discuss how we work together to establish outpost services in inpatient facilities and community settings, and finalising our website,' says Program Manager Helen Makregiorgos.

Meet our senior team

Our senior advocates (below, left to right) Martha Papagiannis, Liz Carr and Liz Krause began work in mid-July. They share a strong commitment to human rights and working alongside mental health consumers.

All three have strong advocacy skills, and their combined experience spans a wide range of expertise including backgrounds in community development, nursing and social work.

Read more about our new senior advocates.

Martha Papagiannis, Liz Carr and Liz Krause

Inducting the new team

Our team of advocates began work in August, and have been taking part in an induction program designed specifically to prepare them to take up their new roles.

The advocates have a broad range of experience and practice backgrounds including work in the spheres of mental health, homelessness, family violence, drug and alcohol, and refugee and migration. They have worked in a range of roles including social work, nursing, peer practitioner and consumer advocates.

Their induction is covering consumer perspectives and voice, advocacy, mental health clinical settings, and the mental health legal framework. The induction also includes operational matters such as policies and procedures for the new service.

A number of the induction sessions have been co-produced with consumers. Consumers also led and produced one of the induction days and will facilitate one day of the program.

Another feature will be a panel session with key mental health organisations. These include the Mental Health Complaints Commissioner, the Mental Health Tribunal, the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist, mental health services for the aged, youth and adults, and consumer-led organisations.

Helen says: 'We were keen to ensure our advocates had an opportunity to hear a diverse range of voices from across the mental health sector.

'We really appreciate the contribution of the consumers, clinicians, lawyers, advocates, government officials and others who are supporting the delivery of the induction program.

'The team have also been able to get to know each other and learn from each other, as between them there is a huge amount of expertise and rich experience and knowledge.'

'Madness made me': an insight into compulsory treatment

A short documentary about the experiences of New Zealand's former Mental Health Commissioner, Mary O'Hagan, gives a compelling insight into the disempowerment and frustration many people feel when being compulsorily treated.

Ms O'Hagan spent five years in and out of psychiatric treatment as a young woman. She was the first chair of the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, and has been an advisor to the United Nations and World Health Organisation.  

View the documentary Madness made me.

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