New independent mental health advocacy service
Victoria Legal Aid has reached agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services to deliver an independent mental health advocacy service.
This new service is the first of its kind in Victoria and will support the goals of the Mental Health Act 2014.
It is a serious step for people to be detained and to receive psychiatric treatment against their will. It is vital that people subject to compulsory treatment have a say about their treatment, care and recovery, are supported to express their treatment preferences, and have their wishes considered, respected and where possible, followed.
Independent advocates employed by the new service will help people diagnosed with a mental illness, who are receiving involuntary treatment to have a voice in decisions about their own treatment, care and recovery.
The independent mental health advocacy service is not a legal service.
Victoria Legal Aid is looking forward to the opportunity to deliver the new service. Twenty two per cent of people helped by Victoria Legal Aid last year disclosed a mental illness or disability, and advocating for this group to be heard in the justice system has always been an important focus of our work.
The new service also aligns with our objectives: supporting people who are experiencing disadvantage, giving early and timely help, ensuring people know about their rights and options, and supporting them if they need to access other services.
Many details of the new service are still being worked out, and in these early stages we will be talking and listening to mental health consumers, and the services that already support them, to learn more about what is needed.