Victoria Begins Royal Commission Into Mental Health System

Tuesday 2 April 2019 @ 12.20 p.m. | Legal Research

In late 2018, the Victorian Government established the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System (‘the Commission’). Between December 2018 and January 2019 the public was invited to consult and provide input on the Terms of Reference for the Commission and to assist in identifying focus areas for the inquiry.

On 24 February 2019, the Premier and the Minister for Mental Health released the Terms of Reference and appointed Commissioners. In the Commission’s media release, published on 26 March 2019, it states:

“The aim of the Royal Commission is to provide the community with a clear and ambitious set of actions that will change Victoria’s mental health system and enable Victorians to experience their best mental health.”

The Commission will begin its first round of community consultations on 5 April 2019. Its interim report is scheduled to be released in November and its final report in October 2020.

Terms of Reference

The Victorian Government recognises that mental illness affects people of all ages and backgrounds across the state. Approximately 20% of individuals in Victoria experience some form of mental illness, with varying levels of recovery. Poor mental health services and poor engagement with such services can have effects on a person’s general health prospects and wider wellbeing, affecting many areas in their life, including their ability to maintain employment, education and housing. Stigma around mental health also limits the number of people seeking help. The Government has acknowledged that every person affected by mental illness deserves care, treatment and support, and has noted that carers and family members of affected individuals are also to be supported in their efforts to respond to mental health and assist personal recovery.

The Terms of Reference state:

“[The Commission is] appointed to inquire into and report on how Victoria’s mental health system can most effectively prevent mental illness, and deliver treatment, care and support so that all those in the Victorian community can experience their best mental health, now and into the future.”

There are five main focus areas that will be investigated by the Commission:

  1. How to best prevent mental illness and suicide and support recovery from mental illness
  2. How to best deliver the best outcomes and improve access to mental health systems and providers
  3. How to best support families and carers of people living with mental illness
  4. How to best improve outcomes, taking into account best practice and personalised treatment
  5. How to best support people with mental illness who also have problematic alcohol and drug use

In its inquiry, the Commission is to take into account things such as:

  • Evidence given by people living with mental illness
  • Evidence from workers in mental health providers who are engaged in preventing, responding to and treating mental illness
  • The need to recognise and respect the different needs of varying groups and communities, such as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, LGBTIQ+ community, people experiencing family violence or homelessness
  • The need to safeguard human rights, especially in the promotion of safe and least restrictive treatment of mental illness

The Commission is tasked with coming up with recommendations to achieve outcomes that are practical, efficient and sustainable in order to enhance the lives of current and future people affected by mental illness.

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