Authors: Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health (Forensicare), Melbourne, Vic
Event: 2003 TheMHS Awards
Type of resource: TheMHS Awards
Award state: VIC
Award level: Finalist
Award category: Consumer or Carer Program or Service
Abstract: In August 1999, Forensicare identified that we were not keeping pace with other mental health services in developing consumer participation programs. To address this deficit a Consumer Participation Reference Group (comprising staff, consumer and advocacy group representatives) was formed to develop an organization wide Consumer Participation Plan, consistent with the National Mental Health Standards and Department of Human Service policy guidelines. The reference group commenced with a consumer representative who was a current patient of the service. To demonstrate its commitment to consumer participation Forensicare self funded the program, with an initial allocation of $32,000 per annum. In July 2000 the first two part time consumer consultants were employed, one who was a consumer of a non-forensic service and the other who was a consumer (outpatient) of Forensicare. The second phase of the plan was to establish a Consumer Advisory Group, comprising 8 current forensic mental health consumers. The next phase of the plan was to establish Consumer/Staff collaborative forums. These commenced in 2002 and are now a regular component of the staff inservice education and consumer campus programs. All consumers are paid for their time with part time consumer consultants having the same terms and conditions of employment as any other staff member, and members of the Consumer Advisory Group being paid sessional hourly rates. Description of Facility/Organisation: Forensicare is a statewide forensic mental health service targeting mentally ill offenders and individuals who have had, or are at risk of having contact with, the criminal justice system. There are three main campuses: • Thomas Embling Hospital, which is a 100-bed inpatient service. Patients are admitted to this facility under the Mental Health Act, the Sentencing Act or the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfit to be Tried) Act. There are 6 individual units providing varying levels of security and intervention. The main areas include, Acute Assessment and Treatment- 2x15 bed male units and 1x 10 bed female unit, Sub-Acute and Transitional Care- 1x20 bed medium risk mixed gender and 1x high risk male, Intensive Rehabilitation- 1x20 bed mixed gender; • Community Forensic Mental Health Service providing mental health case management to targeted patients discharged from Thomas Embling Hospital, specialist assessment and treatment of sex offenders and other groups such as stalkers, people who make threats, victims etc. In addition the program also provides a mental health court liaison service to 7 metropolitan Magistrates Courts. • Melbourne Assessment Prison, which provides mental health assessment of all prisoners received into the Victorian Prison system who are identified as ‘at risk’. This currently comprises 65-70% of all prisoners. In addition a 15-bed acute assessment unit (non-gazetted beds) is available for prisoners who require more intensive assessment and commencement of voluntary treatment. Forensicare also provides Consultant Psychiatry services to all Victorian Regional Prisons and the Women’s metropolitan prison. The total annual budget for the service is approx $26 million.