In the run up to the recent State Election the Queensland Law Society called for the major political parties to commit to better treatment of people in the criminal justice system who suffer from mental health issues.
In a State election issues paper, the Society highlighted the need for programs to identify mental health issues early in a case so that the underlying causes of a person’s offending behaviour can be addressed. It also called for assistance for the accused and their family through court processes and in accessing mental health services.
The ALP and LNP responded with different takes on the issue.
Attorney-General Paul Lucas stated the ALP was committed to introducing legislation for magistrates to consider taking into account of their assessment of a defendant, orders of the Mental Health Court – an expert tribunal constituted by a Supreme Court judge assisted by two psychiatrists.
Shadow Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said the LNP was receptive to the need for greater assistance for the accused and their family through the court processes.
But even after the election, firm commitments are needed to ensure those with mental health issues and impaired decision-making capacity benefit from programs to help them understand their behaviour and reduce the risk of reoffending.