Mental Health Courts: What can we learn from the US experience?

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Event Details

11 October 2018 at 5:30 pm – 11 October 2018 at 7:30 pm
Monash University Law Chambers, 555 Lonsdale Street, Seminar Room 6
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Magistrate Felicity Zempilas from Western Australia's mental health court, the START Court, will speak about the findings from her recent Churchill Fellowship which saw her travel to the United States in 2018. She reflects on latest practice and policy developments in the United States mental health courts that will be relevant to those working in mental health courts and other problem-oriented courts, and those interested in therapeutic jurisprudence and responses to offenders with mental illness. Magistrate Zempilas' talk will be followed by a panel discussion of magistrates and other experts.

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Magistrate Felicity Zempilas

Felicity Zempilas graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Western Australia in 1993. She was admitted as a practitioner of the Supreme Court of Western Australia in December 1994.

After completing articles, Felicity commenced as a lawyer in the criminal section of the Aboriginal Legal Service in Perth. She took up a position as a state prosecutor with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in 1996, during which time she also completed a year’s secondment to the Office of the State Coroner in 2000. Felicity later commenced permanently as Counsel Assisting the State Coroner in 2003 and worked part time in that position, assisting in a large number of inquests. During that time she had two children; Max (born 2002) and Poppy (born 2006).

Felicity was appointed as a Magistrate in August 2009 and worked in the Goldfields, Esperance and Western Desert Regions until early 2014, hearing matters involving criminal, civil, family and mining law and covering a broad geographical area. This included presiding in the Aboriginal Sentencing Community Court. She then worked as a Magistrate in Perth, focussing mainly on criminal, civil and mining law and, since the beginning of 2017, is now the dedicated Magistrate in the Adult Mental Health Diversion (Start) Court. She was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2017 to study mental health courts in the United States.

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