Friday, 4 October 2019

Courts across Victoria are being helped to identify and provide extra support for offenders suffering a mental illness, thanks to a new initiative funded by the Andrews Labor Government.

Parliamentary Secretary for Mental Health, Harriet Shing today announced the completed roll out of the Mental Health Advice and Response Service (MHARS) program, including Morwell magistrates’ court.

MHARS was introduced in July last year and is now fully implemented across 13 Victorian magistrates’ courts in Victoria including: Melbourne, Sunshine, Broadmeadows, Heidelberg, Ringwood, Frankston, Dandenong, Moorabbin, Bendigo, Ballarat, Shepparton, Morwell and Geelong.

In Morwell, the program is run by Latrobe Regional Hospital, who provide a clinician to give advice to a Magistrate on whether someone before the court would benefit from mental health treatment as part of their community corrections order.

The Labor Government funded the program $12.2 million over four years.

MHARS plays a crucial role in intervening early and referring them to services that can help address underlying drivers of their criminal behaviour and prevent them from entering or re-entering prison.

Building on last year’s record mental health investment, the Labor Government has provided a further $173 million in the 2019-20 Victorian Budget to ensure Victorians are getting the help they need, now.

While the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System continues its vital work, the Government continues to investigate ways to prevent and respond to mental illness and create strong links between mental health and other services.

The Royal Commission will deliver its interim report next month and the Labor Government has committed to implement all its recommendations.

Quote attributable to Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley

“We know there’s work to be done to give Victorians the mental health support they deserve, which is why we’ve agreed to implement all recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.”

Quote attributable to Attorney General Jill Hennessy

“This important program helps our courts to better understand mental health and the needs of each individual, while still accounting for community safety.”

Quote attributable to Parliamentary Secretary for Mental Health and Member for Eastern Victoria Region Harriet Shing

“We’re working to ensure the Eastern Victorian community, including those in our justice system, receive the mental health support they need, now.”