February 06, 2019 |

Most people will suffer from a mental health challenge at some point in their lives. It is often the very fact of the injustice that our communities are experiencing that causes, or contributes to the mental health problems. It is clear that exclusion or marginalisation from society will impact upon the mental health of people. If you belong to a certain racial or religious group for example, and experience targeted and consistent discrimination - this would understandably impact upon your mental health.

The Federation of Community Legal Centres is pleased to make this submission regarding the terms of reference for the Royal Commission into Mental Health (the Royal Commission).

The Federation of Community Legal Centres (the Federation) represents over 50 community and Aboriginal legal centres across Victoria. Community legal centres are grassroots organisations with strong connections to our communities. Each year our centres provide legal advice and representation to thousands of Victorians and their families who are doing it tough. Through the work that our centres do, we see the profound impact that systemic injustice has on the mental health of our communities.

For some of our centres, up to 60 per cent of the people they support experience mental health challenges. For our specialist mental health legal centre, all of the people they support have a mental illness. For many, an experience of mental illness is one of many vulnerabilities they may experience at that time, resulting in a cluster of legal problems that are complex to resolve.

This Royal Commission into Mental Health comes at a critical time, when our prison population is expanding at alarming rates and nearly half have a diagnosed mental illness.

We are keen to provide insights from our member centres and their communities. We encourage the Royal Commission to look broadly into mental health and related issues across our society and look at system wide solutions.

Read our brief submission here.

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