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Media Release – September 12th 2017

Changes to be made at LRH


The Mental Health Complaints Commission (Complaints Commission) is recommending changes in the treatment of patients who are involuntarily confined in the psychiatric ward of the Latrobe Regional Hospital (LRH).


In announcing this today, Derek Amos, Chairman of Barrier Breakers Inc., Gippsland’s mental health advocacy, said Barrier Breakers had made an official complaint to the Mental Health Commission over a denial of natural justice afforded to one of their clients who was appealing an Involuntary Treatment Order (ITO).


The Deputy Commissioner of the Complaints Commission has now advised Mr. Amos that LRH has been asked to adhere to the Mental Health Act 2014 to ensure that patients have a “Nominated Person” to protect their interests and that an “advanced statement” be provided to that person before any hearing to determine involuntary treatment or otherwise.


Mr. Amos said the implementation of this provision by LRH would vastly improve transparency in such cases and provide for greater protection of a patients’ rights by enabling a “Nominated Person” to have access to information and the opportunity to more properly advocate on the patients behalf.


“Nobody should be denied natural justice before any court or tribunal in the land and this rule applies to anyone, whether they be mentally ill or not”.


“Just because a person’s mental illness may render them incapable from clearly expressing themselves before a tribunal, does not mean in itself that the person should be judged to be incapable of adhering to a voluntary mental health plan”.


Mr. Amos said this was particularly relevant to those situations where authorities are demanding that a patient be placed on an ITO and where the patient is clearly capable of attending his/her GP and following a voluntary plan.


“Everyone should be entitled to advocacy representation in such circumstances to enable a tribunal to be in possession of all the facts before involuntary orders are decided”, Mr. Amos concluded.


For further information, please contact Derek Amos on 0428397706.

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