The Mental Health Court Liaison Service (MHCLS) plays a key role in the public mental health response to the over representation of people with mental illness in the criminal justice system. The service aims to intervene early in the criminal justice process by identifying mentally ill individuals at the post charge, pre-sentence stage, and by providing timely advice to courts and linkage with treatment providers. The service offers specialist mental health assessment and advice to Magistrates and facilitates early intervention for people who are in police custody.
The individuals whom the service seeks to support are typically those who are charged with offences and present with a mental illness whether they be: those currently linked with treatment services; those who have disengaged from treatment or; those who are experiencing mental illness and have yet to come into contact with treatment providers.
The MHCLS plays a crucial role in facilitating the pathway for incarcerated patients back into mainstream psychiatric services. MHCL clinicians regularly expedite inpatient assessment orders under the Mental Health Act 2014 for mentally unwell individuals who are in the process of applying for bail. Accordingly the service maintains a crucial relationship with Area Mental Health Services.
The Mental Health Court Liaison Service operates full time at Melbourne and Sunshine Magistrates’ Court. It operates part time at Ringwood, Heidelberg, Dandenong, Frankston and Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Courts.