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Human Rights and Mental Illness (Victoria)

Human Rights and Mental Illness (Victoria)

Report of the Reconvened Inquiry into the Human Rights of People with Mental Illness December 1995

This Inquiry was an extension of the original National Inquiry into the Human Rights of People with Mental Illness, the report of which was tabled in Parliament in October 1993. The Inquiry was reconvened in Victoria because of particular concerns relating to that State which required further exploration.

The terms of reference of the Reconvened Inquiry were to examine:

  • the circumstances in which medication is provided in private hotels, hostels, boarding houses or other non-specialist facilities where individuals affected by mental illness reside

  • the adequacy of services for especially vulnerable or disadvantaged groups (including those individuals who are homeless, those with dual or multiple disabilities, the elderly, the young and those from non-English speaking backgrounds)

  • the participation of non-government agencies in policy formulation and program planning for people affected by mental illness

  • whether there has been any intimidation, coercion, detriment or disadvantage suffered by any individuals or organisations advocating on behalf of the mentally ill or criticising the adequacy of existing programs or services.

The Reconvened Inquiry found that, in principle, the Victorian Government's reform agenda was potentially of great benefit to people with mental illness, as well as to their carers and the community. However, the evidence raised serious concerns about the manner in which the reforms were being implemented.

The Inquiry found that, despite higher per capita spending on mental health than in other States and Territories, Victoria's mental health system was not meeting the demands placed on it. The situation was placing extreme demands on the community sector, service providers and those caring privately for people with mental illness.

Of particular concern was that an antagonistic climate appeared to pervade Victoria's health system. A climate of intimidation appeared to inhibit mental health workers and advocates from voicing their concerns about the mental health system.

Recommendations included:

  • The Victorian Government should direct additional funding to community health services so that they can respond effectively to the demands made on them as a result of deinstitutionalisation.

  • Funding should be provided for programs addressing the needs of particular groups affected by mental illness including women, children, the elderly, people with disabilities and people from non-English speaking backgrounds.

  • Additional resources should be directed to mental health, disability, drug and alcohol services to encourage better co-ordination of service delivery and allow for a broadening of eligibility criteria.

  • The Victorian Department of Health and Community Services should ensure equality of delivery within services.

  • More rigorous procedures should be established for inspection and registration of boarding house accommodation for people with mental illness.

  • Effective processes should be established for mental health workers to voice their concerns.

  • The Government should broaden its advisory committees on mental health to ensure more effective consultation and representation.

The Report of the Reconvened Inquiry was tabled in Parliament on 14 December 1995.


Last updated 2 December 2001.