Authors: Jasmine Stanton, Kathryn Starkey, Rochelle Mitchell, Tichaona Mazhawidza, Jennifer Chen, Simon Katterl, Frankie Hipkins, Michelle Swann, Lisa Casaceli & Treasure Jennings
Event: 2023 The MHS conference - Adelaide
Subject: Legal Services & System Reform
Type of resource: Video
Presentation 1: Mental health in Human Rights Legal Processes: People with lived experience participating in royal commissions.
Authors: Jasmine Stanton & Kathryn Starkey
There is a strong link between royal commissions and human rights. In Australia, royal commissions are the highest form of inquiry of matters of public importance. Not surprisingly, they are used to inquire into concerns about how marginalised groups in our community are being treated.
The Defence and Veterans Legal Service is assisting people with lived experience of suicide and suicidality to fully participate in the Defence and Veteran Suicide Royal Commission (DVSRC). This is vital as the Royal Commission’s highest priority is to hear from people with such lived experience.
Flexible processes, legal protections and legal support for those wishing to participate in Royal Commissions are new concepts in Australia. Already, our service is seeing an increase in client’s accessing legal processes to redress breaches of their human rights.
The authors will present their learnings on incorporating mental health considerations and trauma informed practices into a legal service which is committed to making rights real:
• Benefits of a multidisciplinary team
• Importance of trauma informed service delivery training for all staff
• Advantages of having staff with lived experience of military service
• Opportunities for further improvement including co-designing services.
Attendees will learn about how Defence and Veterans Legal Service is “making rights real” by bringing mental health considerations and trauma informed practices into a legal service. In this way it has encouraged people living with mental health issues to fully participate in the Defence and Veteran Suicide Royal Commission.
Kaldas, N. Douglas, J. Brown, P (Aug 2022) Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide Interim Report, Commonwealth of Australia accessed electronically from Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide Interim Report | Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide
Legislation: Royal Commissions Act 1901 (Cth), Royal Commissions Amendment Act 2013 (Cth), Royal Commissions Amendment (Private Sessions) Act 2019 (Cth) accessed electronically from Federal Register of Legislation - Australian Government
Kezelman, C. Stravopoulos, P (2016) Trauma and the Law: applying trauma informed practice to legal and judicial contexts. Blue Knot Foundation, Australia.
Presentation 2: Big picture lawyering: wholistic integrated services with people at the centre.
Authors: Rochelle Mitchell & Tichaona Mazhawidza
“Big picture lawyering: wholistic integrated services with people at the centre”
Legal and mental health services are often compartmentalised to pose further obstacles to people who need assistance. In contrast, RUAH Legal Services provides integrated legal and psychosocial support to people experiencing marginalisation. RUAH’s integrated model of service delivery recognises that legal assistance not sufficient to meet the needs of vulnerable clients.
In addition to legal assistance in family law, crime and mental health jurisdictions, they address factors underpinning mental health, homelessness and family and domestic violence. Social workers work ‘hand in glove’ with lawyers and clients to provide wraparound and intensive support. Social workers may provide support regarding mental health, support at court or meetings with government departments, emergency relief, family relationships and parenting, financial, health, housing, alcohol and drug support services, NDIS, Centrelink and counselling.
For example, people going through care and protection proceedings are assigned a social worker from the beginning of their matter. This multidisciplinary approach gives a thorough voice to the person at the centre of the situation. The data shows that clients ultimately receive better outcomes.
This presentation will outline RUAH’s client-led service design, including an accessible referral process, a culture of continuous learning, ongoing monitoring and evaluation and trauma-informed communication.
Attendees to this presentation will learn:
1. What integrated service delivery looks like in practice
2. RUAH’S trauma-informed approach to each person
Presentation 3: Realising rights safely: trauma-informed training for the legal assistance sector.
Authors: Jennifer Chen & Simon Katterl
People with lived experience and carers often need help from the legal assistance sector advocating for their human rights. However, lawyers are likely not trained to work with people experiencing mental ill-health, even though this is a common and important part of the work. People with lived experience and carers typically do not have a say in shaping legal services to ensure they are delivered in a trauma-informed, rights-based way.
The Mental Health Training Project designed national training for the legal assistance sector to address this gap. This was the first national co-design project in the legal assistance sector. The voices of people with lived experience, carers and legal assistance staff were central in the governance, design and delivery of the Project.
National consultations considered the rights and needs of a diverse range of consumer and carer perspectives. This included groups which had experienced marginalisation such as people in the forensic mental health system, people with experience of the criminal justice system, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community representatives, people with limited community connections and people with intersectional experiences.
Training addressed person-centred, compassionate recovery-oriented service delivery; trauma-informed communication; clarifying the scope of a lawyer’s obligations; supported decision-making and working with carers.
Attendees to this presentation will learn:
1. Lessons learned from the first co-design project in the legal assistance sector
2. A rights-based model of trauma-informed practice for lawyers
McCallum, M., Breslauer, S., Ibrahim, K., LaCroix, D., & Burak, S. (2020). Trauma-Informed Legal Practice Toolkit. Golden Eagle Rising Society, Law Foundation of British Columbia. Retrieved from: https://www.goldeneaglerising.org/initiatives-and-actions/trauma-informed-toolkit-for-legal-professionals/
Kezelman, C. A., & Stavropoulos, P. (2016), Trauma and the Law: Applying Trauma- Informed Practice to legal and judicial contexts. Blue Knot Foundation. Retrieved from: https://professionals.blueknot.org.au/resources/publications/trauma-and-thelaw/
Presentation 4: Embedding lived experience in system transformation; lessons from Victoria's mental health and wellbeing system reforms.
Authors: Frankie Hipkins, Michelle Swann & Lisa Casaceli
The Victorian Department of Health's Lived Experience Branch brings together and represents the perspectives and interests of consumers and families, carers and supporters.
The Lived and Living Experience Advisory Hub provides support and advice from lived experience perspectives in mental health and alcohol and other drugs (AOD) across multiple projects delivered by the Victorian Department of Health Mental Health and Wellbeing Division.
The Hub ensures the views of consumers, carers, families and supporters are central and integral to the design and delivery of mental health and AOD services, and service system transformation.
This presentation will share progress in embedding lived experience in reforms, including lessons learnt from the first two years of implementing recommendations from the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System interim and final reports.
Presenters: Frankie Hipkins and Michelle Swann
Timing: 20 minute paper/presentation
This presentation will provide an opportunity to learn about:
• how to embed lived experience in transformation
• moving towards coproduction
• applied methodologies for lived experience led projects
Presentation 5: Victoria’s new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission – once-in-a-generation opportunity for system-wide reform and improvement.
Author: Treasure Jennings
On 1 September 2023, Victoria’s new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission (MHWC) will be established. This newly created body will be a key feature of Victoria’s new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 , an independent Statutory Authority that will monitor Victoria’s mental health and wellbeing system.
Equipped with learnings from the current Victorian Mental Health Complaints Commission, the new body will have a broader oversight of the mental health system and will drive wider cultural change and reduce stigma surrounding mental illness. It will have substantial powers to obtain and share data, begin inquiries, and investigate complaints. This represents the opportunity and impetus for system-wide reform.
A reliable and accountable mental health system is a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into the mental health system – and the new Commission will play a pivotal role in achieving these outcomes, maintaining a high quality and safe system for all Victorians needing support, treatment, and care.
A key focus of the Commission will be in creating a system that genuinely works collaboratively with consumers and carers, drawing on lived experience to achieve a world-class, reformed mental health and wellbeing system.
This presentation will outline the Chair Commissioner’s perspective on the opportunities that the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission provides to drive system reform and change. It will outline how the Commission’s role and functions and the impacts this will have on mental health service delivery in Victoria.
Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 (VIC), Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 (legislation.vic.gov.au).