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Nurses In Police Stations Welcomed

9 July 2008

Nurses In Police Stations Welcomed

The Mental Health Commission supports the idea of mental health experts working more closely with police.

Chair Commissioner Dr Peter McGeorge says there would be a great deal of value in having nurses based at police stations to help officers deal with people experiencing mental health problems.

“Anything that preserves the dignity and rights of individuals brought into the police station while helping police carry out their work with a minimum of interference and distress would be very useful,” he says.

“Mental health nurses could help defuse potentially fraught situations when people experiencing mental illness are brought into the station because they’re suspected of a crime.

“It would require additional resources, however, and attention to the logistics of how the system would work. In the first instance, it may be a matter of increasing the resource of community-based Crisis Intervention Teams or drawing upon or establishing an extension of the existing Mental Health Court Liaison Service.”

Background about the Mental Health Commission:

The Mental Health Commission was established as a ministerial committee in response to the recommendations of the 1996 Mason Inquiry into Mental Health Services. In April 1998 it became a Crown entity. Its term has been extended three times, the most recent in August 2007, when its term was extended to 2015. At that time, the Commission’s functions were reframed to align with the future direction of the mental health and addiction sector.

The Mental Health Commission’s functions as defined by the Mental Health Commission Amendment Act 2007 are to:

- advocate for the interests of people with mental illness and their families generally (rather than for individuals or groups), while taking into account the interests of other stakeholders;
- promote and facilitate collaboration and communication about mental health issues;
- work independently and with others to promote better understanding of mental illness by the community, reduce the stigma and prejudice associated with mental illness, and to eliminate inappropriate discrimination on the grounds of mental illness;
- monitor, and to report to and advise the Minister on the implementation of the national mental health strategy;
- stimulate and support the development of integrated and effective methods or systems of providing care;
- stimulate and to do research into any matter relevant to mental illness.


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