WE WON'T TURN OUR BACK ON MENTAL HEALTH
People with serious mental illness are being failed by WA’s criminal justice system. They are being failed because successive State governments have not invested in the necessary facilities and services and in much-needed law reform.
CARE FOR PEOPLE
People with serious mental illness are among the most vulnerable people in our community. In 2011, the Government’s own Mental Health Commission noted the lack of services available, saying:
...when people with mental health problems and/or mental illness are sentenced to prison or require a safe and secure facility after being found not guilty of a major offence due to mental impairment, there are currently insufficient forensic inpatient services available to deliver appropriate assessment, treatment, care and recovery services.
People with serious mental illness, their families and loved ones, and our community, all deserve better.
In order to minimise risk, including to personal and public safety, to meet our human rights obligations, and to reduce long term reoffending, we need to drastically improve the way we approach forensic mental health in WA.
“Forensic mental health” is the term used to describe the assessment, care and rehabilitation of: defendants who face charges in the courts; mentally ill offenders who are in prison or in the community; and individuals who have been found unfit to stand trial or who have been found not guilty by reason of unsoundness of mind.
People with mental illness are over-represented at all levels of the criminal justice system.
In his influential 2012 report, Professor Bryant Stokes reported that a staggering 85 per cent of criminal court attendees had previously had contact with mental health services. Other figures show that around 7% of our prison population suffer from psychosis and 20 per cent from depressive disorders.
WA spends far below the national average in the area of forensic mental health. Nationally, spending on forensic mental health beds averages 8.2% of spending on mental health beds, yet WA spends only around half this amount.
The Greens (WA) Forensic Mental Health Action Plan has been designed to create a vastly improved forensic mental health system which will deliver better services, reduce reoffending, and enhance community safety through:
1. Legislative reform
2. Declared places for people with mental illness on custody orders
3. Increased numbers of forensic mental health beds
4. Forensic mental health services for children and young people
5. Coordinated care for people with serious mental illness in the criminal justice system