Mental pain shouldn't swing on MP's whim
West Australian mental health authorities say politicians should not decide the freedom of mentally impaired people.
The call was made after revelations of the turmoil that Attorney General Michael Mischin’s inaction caused on one patient.
A review has found that that Perth man Enoch Samuel Walsh became increasingly distressed when no word came after a recommendation that he be freed from a psychiatric facility.
The Attorney-General made no decision, even after the Mentally Impaired Accused Review Board recommended he be released into the community on a Conditional Release Order last year and again this year.
Mr Walsh had been at the facility on a leave of absence order since he was acquitted of murdering his mother, after being found to be of unsound mind.
Enoch Walsh has been missing from Claremont's Romily House since October 5.
Mr Mischin will not say why he rejected the first recommendation, but claims he was considering this year's advice when Mr Walsh vanished.
WA remains the only state where ministerial approval is required to sign the release of mentally impaired people locked up on custody orders.
The WA Association for Mental Health president says the case clearly demonstrates a problem in the Criminal Law (Mentally Impaired Accused) Act.
Association for Mental Health president Alison Xamon has told ABC that politicians must be removed from the decision making process.
“Unfortunately, this really goes to the heart of the problem of the Act and that is that the judicial process has been removed and it has effectively become politicised,” she said.
“One of the key things that needs to be changed is removing politicians from entire decision making process.
“It's up to judges and health professionals to be the ones who can determine what can happen for people who have experienced mental health issues.”
Review boards and similar bodies make the final call in other states, and WA’s laws are up for review soon.
Consumers of Mental Health is making a submission to the review process that will also recommend release orders do not involve ministerial approval.