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Mental health strategies for the justice system

15 Oct 2014


The increasing incidence of people living with mental illness in the community means that justice and health agencies are experiencing significant challenges. There are increasing interactions between people with a mental illness and criminal justice agencies, and a lack of capacity to adequately respond to and manage these needs.

Justice and health agencies recognise the importance of addressing mental health issues within the criminal justice system. All have implemented initiatives that aim to improve outcomes, but significant gaps remain.

There is currently no overarching strategy or leadership for mental health and the justice system that focuses on improving outcomes for people with a mental illness. Where plans do exist, they are limited to agencies’ own areas of responsibility, or only address parts of the justice system.

While there is evidence of agencies working together, this is neither uniform nor sufficiently coordinated to address mental illness effectively.

Responsibility for coordinating the agencies is unclear, and there is a lack of accountability for the success or failure of responses across the criminal justice system. This is likely to further limit the effectiveness of coordination, collaboration and planning, as actions rely on individual agencies, their relationships and their ability to take a system-wide perspective.

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