Justice Shane Marshall, who has spoken publicly about his experiences with depression, has been appointed as chair of an independent review into how mental health care in Victoria can be safer and more compassionate.
Marshall J, who brings more than 20 years of experience as a Federal Court judge and currently serves as an acting Judge of the Supreme Court of Tasmania and deputy chairperson of the Victorian Racing Tribunal, is set to lead the newly announced review, which will also consider how mental health decision-making laws in Victoria can be aligned with other medical decision-making legislation.
In a statement, the Andrews government said that it is putting lived experience at the heart of the review, which will dive deeper into the criteria, regulations and future legislation for compulsory mental health treatment, as part of the reform of Victoria’s mental health and wellbeing system.
The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, the state government noted, recommended that compulsory treatment criteria be simplified and clarified, and that Victoria’s mental health laws be aligned over time with other Victorian decision-making laws.
Justice Marshall will be joined on the panel by eminent psychiatrist Professor Richard Newton, lived-experience consumer representatives Flick Grey and Erandathie Jayakody, and lived-experience carer representative Lisa Sweeney.
The panel will work to terms of reference for the bill developed by a group of consumers, families, carers, supporters and workers in the sector and service providers.
When the review concludes in late 2023, the state government continued, the panel will provide formal advice and recommendations to the government that will form the basis of amendments to the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act legislation that will deliver a health-based approach to caring for Victorians when they are in crisis.
“The new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act is a historic milestone in Victoria’s work to build a mental health system that delivers tailored care to all Victorians, close to home,” it proclaimed.
“The new bill sets out principles that will ensure the state’s mental health services are responsive, make sure Victorians seeking care are closely involved in decisions about their treatment and support, and incorporate a statement of recognition and acknowledgement of the treaty process.”
This bill, the statement continued, is just the first step in building the foundations for a world-class mental health system.
“The Victorian budget 2022/23 invested $1.3 billion in mental health and wellbeing, building on last year’s record investment of $3.8 billion – the largest single investment in mental health in Victoria’s history,” it said.
Minister for Mental Health James Merlino added that the Andrews government is “taking the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act through the Parliament now, to build the critical foundations of our state’s reformed mental health system and make sure everyone gets the care they deserve – but we knew there were some aspects of the law, like compulsory treatment, that needed more time to get right”.
“I look forward to seeing the work of Justice Marshall and the expert review panel to help us deliver our vision for safe, supportive mental healthcare for Victoria that delivers a health-based response before all else,” he said.