The passing of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Bill will mark the beginning of a lot of the mental health reforms recommended by the Royal Commission, which VMIAC supports. However, this does not mean that we support every part of the Bill. We provided advice to Government during the consultation and drafting process of the Bill, where we advocated for the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities be embedded in all parts of the Bill to better protect consumer rights. We have, and will continue to, advocate for a mental health system that is free of coercion, including forced treatment, detention, seclusion and restraint.
We have always advocated for the elimination of restrictive practices, which we are told will be achieved within 10 years. However, we note that the Royal Commission’s recommendation to immediately reduce the seclusion targets has not yet been implemented. VMIAC has drawn attention to this both in our recommendations to Government and our recently released Seclusion Report.
VMIAC also called for increased accountability of mental health services and practitioners, and a more robust, effective, and transparent oversight system. To do this, we need high quality, publicly available and readily accessible data from mental health services and the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission.
We urge the Government to commit to co-designing a comprehensive regulatory and reporting framework to ensure that the review of the Act (which will happen within 5 – 7 years) is transparent and based on real consumer outcomes under the new Act, both from mental health services and the oversight system – especially the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission. There will still be a lot of work to do once the Bill passes, and we hope that the Government promotes consumer leadership, consultation and codesign in every part of this work.