Mental Health Act 2014
The mental health law in Western Australia is the Mental Health Act 2014. It relates to:
- when a person can be provided with mental health treatment
- the criteria for referring a person for an examination by a psychiatrist
- when a person can be made an involuntary patient on an inpatient treatment order or a community treatment order
- how inpatient treatment orders and community treatment orders operate
- the rights of persons with mental illness and their personal support persons
Mental Health Act 2014 resources are available to help key groups understand and apply the new law:
- mental health professionals
- referrers to mental health services
- people experiencing a mental illness
- people supporting a person with a mental illness
- non-government organisations and private psychiatric hostels
- transport officers
Mental Health Act Amendments
The Mental Health Commission (MHC) is responsible for the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the Mental Health Act 2014 and the Mental Health Regulations 2015.
Following an extensive implementation program, the Act commenced on 30 November 2015. Since that time, the MHC has been in consultation with key stakeholders regarding the workability of the Act. Given the length and complexity of the Act, it was expected that there would be some issues raised that would be best addressed by way of legislative amendment rather than by an operational response. Key Government consulted include the Department of Health, health service providers, the Chief Psychiatrist, the Mental Health Tribunal and the Mental Health Advocacy Service.
A range of proposed amendments to the Act and Regulations are currently under consideration by the MHC. Some may require broader consultation, including with consumers, families and carers, before determining the best way forward. The MHC will consider the impact of any proposed amendments and the consultation that may be required, prior to seeking Government approval to draft an Amendment Bill, for introduction to Parliament.
Review of Mental Health Act
The MHC has completed a Post-Implementation Review (PIR) of the Mental Health Act 2014 (the Act). In accordance with the requirements of the Better Regulation Unit (BRU), formerly the Regulatory Gatekeeping Unit, within the Department of Treasury, the PIR was submitted to the BRU by 30 March 2018.
The PIR focuses on whether the Objects, set out in Part 3 of the Act, are being achieved. In undertaking the PIR, the MHC consulted with a wide range of stakeholders, including government and non-government agencies, peak bodies, advisory groups, mental health clinicians and staff and organisations representing consumers, families and carers. An online survey was also released to obtain direct feedback from consumers, families and carers regarding the experiences of consumers and personal support persons under the Act.
The PIR identified many positive outcomes regarding achievements towards the Objects of the Act, while a number of issues and areas for improvement and development were also identified. Two consistent themes emerged regarding future improvements which may assist further in achieving the Objects. These are training and education for those working within mental health services, both around compliance with and in relation to the ‘spirit’ of the Act, and improved data collation and reporting.
The PIR lists 48 recommendations that aim to enhance the effectiveness of the Act in meeting its Objects and identifying opportunities for improvement. The recommendations address a range of operational, administrative, educational and legislative issues identified as requiring further consideration.
The MHC is committed to working with stakeholders to implement the recommendations of the PIR and to prepare for the more comprehensive statutory review of the Act. The statutory review, to be commenced as soon as practicable after 30 November 2020, will evaluate the overarching operation and effectiveness of the Act and the Mental Health Regulations 2015. Additionally, progress made regarding the implementation of the recommendations resulting from the PIR will be reported on by the MHC, in collaboration with stakeholders, in the statutory review.