CJRC Seminar - Rethinking Mental Health Laws: Developing Model Frameworks

Monash University Law Chambers

19 February 2008

6pm - 8pm

Click here to download a copy of Professor McSherry's seminar on Rethinking Mental Health Laws: Developing Model Frameworks

On Tuesday 19 February 2008, the CJRC hosted Professor Bernadette McSherry’s inaugural presentation on her Federation Fellowship entitled Rethinking Mental Health Laws: An Integrated Approach. The seminar attracted much interest from the criminal justice and mental health fields, with over 50 people attending. Representatives were present from various Victorian and interstate organisations including the Victorian Government Department of Human Services, the Mental Health Review Board, the NSW Ombudsman’s Office, the Victorian Bar, Victoria Police, Forensicare, the Law Institute of Victoria and of course Monash University.

Professor McSherry introduced her research team and then outlined her approach to the project. She indicated the need to look beyond Australia and identify current trends in mental health lawmaking in common law countries (including Canada, New Zealand and parts of the United Kingdom) and compare these trends with the Australian setting. Professor McSherry highlighted the consultative and multi-disciplinary approach that will be used, emphasising interviews and workshops will be conducted with mental health professionals and consumer representatives as well as with legal academics.

At the conclusion of her presentation, Professor McSherry called for comments and suggestions from the audience. Comments covered topics such as the likelihood of the findings of the research to be taken up by appropriate governments, the division of responsibility/power between the state and federal governments and the current opportunity in resetting those roles. Suggestions included considering the medical profession's perspective on ethics (compared to the legal profession's perspective on ethics) and to consider government as a stakeholder in the project as well as the recipient of the final report. Professor McSherry concluded her presentation by encouraging all to email her with any further suggestions or comments they would like to make and to visit the Rethinking Mental Health Laws website regularly for updates.

Professor McSherry was thanked for her informative presentation and the formal proceedings concluded. Copies of the paper the seminar was based on are available from the CJRC website.