Mental health law shake-up targets killers, rapists

The Mental Health Act has been around for 15 years and needs an overhaul, says Health Minister Cameron Dick.
The Mental Health Act has been around for 15 years and needs an overhaul, says Health Minister Cameron Dick. Claudia Baxter

JUDGES will have the power to impose 10-year non-revokable forensic mental health orders on murderers, rapists and other violent offenders under the first major revamp of Queensland mental health laws in 15 years.

The State Government's Health and Ambulance Services Committee will consider a range of mooted changes to the Mental Health Act 2000.

As well as a longer non-revoke forensic order period of up to 10 years, Health Minister Cameron Dick's suggested changes would see magistrates able to dismiss charges where a person is found to be of unsound mind when they commit a crime or if they are unfit for trial.

"These provisions apply to persons with a mental illness, an intellectual disability or another mental condition," Mr Dick said.

"The Mental Health Act 2000 … is 15 years old and has not kept pace with developments in patient rights and clinical practice."

More than 100 submissions were made during the eight-week public consultation process that included meetings and workshops.

The legislation offers a new framework for the management of people whose mental illness is so bad that they are unable to make decisions about their own treatment and care.

"In these cases, the bill provides a lawful authority to treat a person with a mental illness," Mr Dick said.

"The bill also strengthens the requirement to consult with families, carers and other support persons.

"This is critical to having a recovery orientation to the treatment and care of persons with a mental illness."

# If you or someone you know needs help, phone Lifeline on 131 114; the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.


Topics:  court mental health murder rape

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