Mental health service in courts rolled out

October 10, 2019 BY

A STATE government program that makes extra mental health services available in courts has been fully implemented in Ballarat.

Run by Ballarat Health Service and known as MHARS, or the Mental Health Advice and Response Service, the program gives magistrates clinical advice on people before the courts and if they would benefit from treatment as part of sentencing, specifically around community corrections orders.

Mental health has been an area of focus for the Member for Buninyong, Michaela Settle, since being elected last November, having made a submission to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.

“We’re working to ensure that those in our region, including those in our justice system, receive the mental health support they need, now,” she said.

At a total cost of $12.2 million over four years, MHARS has been implemented in 13 magistrates’ courts across the state including Melbourne, Sunshine, Broadmeadows, Heidelberg, Ringwood, Frankston, Dandenong, Moorabbin, Bendigo, Shepparton, Morwell and Geelong, as well as Ballarat.

State Attorney General Jill Hennessy said the service would have wide ranging benefits.

“This important program helps our courts to better understand mental health and the needs of each individual, while still accounting for community safety,” she said.

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System is due to hand down its findings in November and even before the results of the enquiry are known the State government has committed to implementing them.

“We know there’s work to be done to give Victorians the mental health support they deserve, which is why we’ve agreed to implement all recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System,” said Minister for Mental Health, Martin Foley.