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Michael

Michael Power

Year of Award: 2016 Award State: Queensland Health And Medicine > Mental Health
Social Welfare > Domestic Violence
The Dorothy and Brian Wilson Churchill Fellowship to research innovations for improving the lives of victims of serious violence committed by people with a mental illness - USA, Canada, UK, The Netherlands
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Recommendations

Restorative Justice Practice in mental health

The Australian Mental Health Commission stated there is an urgent need for `a clearer view of the extent to which promising practice exists, and is able to be scaled up across Australia; we need piloting and evaluation of diversion and restorative justice approaches….’ (Australian Mental Health Commission. Justice System and Mental Health Report Card 2013). In pursuing this further the following recommendations are provided for Australian states and territories to consider:

  1. Dedicated resources are needed to examine the opportunities for utilising restorative justice practice in Australia either pre-charge, pre-court, or post-court in mental health and forensic mental health services between victims of violence and people with a mental illness who commit that violence
  2. Senior leadership in mental health and forensic mental health services consider the benefits of implementing restorative justice practice in their service to respond to patient to patient violence; patient to staff violence; violence from patients to their families and violence from patients to stranger victims. Development of restorative justice practice should build on existing expertise and skills in restorative justice practice in other contexts (e.g. youth justice, criminal justice, and community conferencing)
  3. In the context of diversion of people with a serious mental illness who commit lower level violence from court, pre-charge or pre-court, Departments of Justice and Attorney’s General consider how their current provision of restorative justice services (victim/ offender mediation) can be more inclusive of people with a serious mental illness
  4. Collaborate with mental health staff and services, restorative justice experts, victim support services on the establishment of a trial of restorative justice practice responding to issues of violence committed by people with a serious mental illness
  5. Development of approved models for implementation in mental health and forensic mental health are based on extensive consultation with local services including mental health clinicians, victim support services, restorative justice practitioners, families, carers, patients, police and mental health advocates
  6. Engagement of the media to support longer term community education about the benefits of implementing restorative justice practice in cases where violence is committed by people with a serious mental illness
  7. Implementation includes evaluation and research to continuously improve implementation, effectiveness and sustainability
  8. Maintenance of a network of interested professionals within Australia, Canada, England and The Netherlands using restorative justice practice in mental health to share ideas, resources, evaluation and research in this area. This includes formalising links with established restorative justice services and leading practitioners in Australia. 

Enhanced support for families of homicide victims

To improve the lives of family members of homicide victims in Australia (including circumstances where the homicide is committed by a person with a serious mental illness) the following recommendations are provided:

  1. Through collaboration between homicide support services and state Health Departments in Australia, examine opportunities for the provision of advocacy services for families of homicide victims when the homicide is committed by a person with a mental illness so that families can raise their concerns with health services and other agencies involved
  2. State and Territory Health Departments examine their existing review and investigation policies and consider the Duty of Candour and Being Open frameworks so that families in cases involving a homicide committed by a person with a mental illness are better informed about reviews and investigations and how they can provide input into these processes
  3. Non-government organisations and state departments with responsibility for victims services consider how to offer groupwork and residential programs in a sustainable way for families of homicide victims. Development of these programs should consider the well-documented benefits of working in group settings with trauma and grief in other contexts through normalising experiences and reducing the isolation of participants.
  4. Through collaboration between homicide and other service providers examine the opportunities for consideration of the additional ideas presented in Part Two of this report.
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