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Research Report: On the edge of justice: the legal needs of people with a mental illness
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On the edge of justice: the legal needs of people with a mental illness  ( 2006 )  Cite this report



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Appendices


Appendix 1: Agencies

Legal

  • Mental Health Legal Centre, Victoria
  • Consumer Credit Legal Centre
  • Disability Discrimination Legal Centre
  • Western NSW Community Legal Centre
  • Gilbert + Tobin
  • Legal Aid Commission of NSW
  • Kingsford Legal Centre
  • Redfern Legal Centre
  • Inner City Legal Centre
  • Welfare Rights Centre, Sydney
  • Mental Health Advocacy Service, Legal Aid NSW
  • Shopfront Youth Legal Centre
  • Tania Evers, solicitor
  • Tenants’ Union of NSW
  • Women’s Legal Services
  • Western Aboriginal Legal Service, Dubbo
  • Maurice Blackburn Cashman Lawyers

Non-legal
  • People with Disability Australia
  • Genderlight, St Vincent de Paul
  • IPS Worldwide (Employee Assistance Program)
  • Maroubra Mental Health Centre
  • Bondi Junction Mental Health Centre
  • Multicultural Mental Health Australia
  • NSW Official Visitors Program
  • Ryde Community Mental Health
  • Relationships Australia
  • St Vincent de Paul Society
  • Lightning Ridge Mental Health Service
  • Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors
  • Greg Hugh, psychiatrist
  • Sydney City Council (Homeless Services)
  • Transcultural Mental Health Centre
  • Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association of NSW
  • Richmond Fellowship
  • Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW
  • Australian Mental Health Consumer Network
  • NSW Consumer Advisory Group—Mental Health Inc
  • NSW Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council
  • Mental Health Coordinating Council
  • Council of Social Services of NSW
  • South Western Sydney Area Health Service
  • Mental Health Association NSW
  • Mental Health Council of Australia

Courts and tribunals
  • Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
  • NSW Statewide Community and Court Liaison Service, Justice Health
  • Newtown Local Court
  • Waverley Local Court
  • Mental Health Review Tribunal
  • Anti-Discrimination Board
  • Social Security Appeals Tribunal
  • Wollongong Community Justice Centre

Government
  • Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
  • NSW Attorney General’s Department
  • Office of the Public Guardian (NSW)
  • Office of the Protective Commissioner (NSW)
  • Centrelink
  • NSW Centre for Mental Health
  • NSW Department of Housing
  • NSW Department of Community Services (SAAP services)
  • NSW Department of Community Services (Care and Protection)
  • NSW Ombudsman
  • NSW Police Force, South Coast (Lake Illawarra, Southern Region)
  • Human Services CEOs’ Forum

Academics
  • Terry Carney, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Sydney.
  • Ian Hickie, Executive Director, Brain & Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney
  • David Abello, Research Officer, Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales
  • Elspeth McInnes, Lecturer, Division of Education Arts and Social Sciences, School of Education, University of South Australia

Appendix 2: Legal Service Questions

General

1. Can you tell us briefly about your role?

2. Who do your clients tend to be? (specific type of mental illness, specific demographics)

Legal needs

3. From your experience, what are the legal issues facing people with a mental illness? (e.g. criminal law issues, family law issues, credit and debt, social security law issues, housing-related issues)

4. Are there any particular issues facing people with a mental illness from particular demographics (e.g. rural/regional, indigenous, women, culturally and linguistically diverse)

5. Are there any particular issues facing people with particular mental illnesses (e.g. schizophrenia vs. depression vs. substance abuse disorders) that you are aware of?

Legal services

6. What barriers do people with a mental illness face in accessing legal information?

7. What barriers do people with a mental illness face in accessing legal services?

8. What gaps (if any) are there in relation to the general provision of legal services to people with a mental illness?

9. What support do you need to better assist your clients with a mental illness?

10. In your experience, what are some of the more effective initiatives that have been implemented in delivering legal services to people with a mental illness?

11. Do you have any other suggestions or comments concerning appropriate models for providing legal services to people with a mental illness?

Participation in the legal process

12. In your experience, what are some of the barriers facing people with a mental illness in accessing and participating in the legal process?

13. What features exist within the courtroom setting that operate to present barriers to people with a mental illness?

14. What are the barriers facing people with a mental illness in accessing and participating in alternative dispute resolution?

15. What barriers do people with a mental illness face in accessing and participating in complaints mechanisms processes (e.g. through Centrelink, Department of Housing)

16. Are you aware of any initiatives that have been put in place to overcome these barriers to participation in the legal process?

17. Could you make any suggestions on ways to improve participation for people with a mental illness in the legal process?

18. Can you think of any examples where access to justice has been improved for people with a mental illness?

Data

19. Do you have any particular case studies that highlight some of the issues we have discussed here today?

20. Do you have any data (such as statistics, annual reports, other reports) that would be relevant to our project?

Is there anything that we have discussed today that you would not like quoted or used in our report?

Appendix 3: Non-legal Questions

Background information

1. Can you briefly tell us about the services that your organisation provides to people with a mental illness?

2. Can you briefly tell us about your role?

3. Who do your clients tend to be? (specific type of mental illness, specific demographics)

Legal needs

4. What are the legal issues facing people with a mental illness (e.g. criminal law issues, family law issues, credit and debt, social security law issues, housing-related issues)?

5. What barriers do people with a mental illness face in obtaining legal information?

6. What barriers do people with a mental illness face in obtaining legal advice?

7. What barriers do people with a mental illness face in accessing legal representation?

8. What are the gaps in legal service provision to people with a mental illness?

9. Do you have a role in assisting your clients with obtaining legal information and advice?

10. If so, what do you need to better support your clients in accessing advice and information?

Participation in the legal process

11. What barriers do people with a mental illness face in going to court?

12. What barriers do people with a mental illness face in going to tribunals (e.g. the Mental Health Review Tribunal or the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal)?

13. What barriers do people with a mental illness face in accessing and participating in internal complaints mechanisms processes (e.g. through Centrelink, Department of Housing)?

14. What barriers do people with a mental illness face in accessing and participating in alternative dispute resolution mechanisms (e.g. mediation)?

15. Do you have a role in assisting clients in preparing for and participating at court, tribunals or mediation?

16. If so, what do you need to better support your clients?

17. Are you aware of any initiatives that have been put in place to overcome barriers to participation in the legal process?

18. Could you make any suggestions on ways to improve participation for people with a mental illness in the legal process?

Data

19. Do you have any particular case studies that highlight some of the issues we have discussed here today?

20. Do you have any data (e.g. statistics, annual reports, and other reports) that would be relevant to our project?

Is there anything that we have discussed today that you would not like quoted or used in our report?

Appendix 4: Interview Schedule

Introduction

Hi, thanks for agreeing to chat with me. I really appreciate your time.

I’m .......................What is your name?

I work at a place called the Law and Justice Foundation. This is an independent organisation that is doing research about peoples’ access to legal information and legal services.

Go to participant information and consent form.

This must be signed by both the interviewer and participant before continuing …

1. So thinking about life recently, has there been a particular legal problem or issue you have had to deal with?

2. So when … happened, what did you do?

If nothing/nowhere—go to Q. 5

3. Did you seek help regarding this problem?

4. If yes, who did you seek help from?

5. If did nothing/nowhere—why was that? (prompt for other reasons)

6. Has the problem been sorted/resolved? How?

7. Has there been any other major issue you have faced recently—perhaps where you think a lawyer may have been able to help you out? (if yes, 1–6 again)

8. If there was a legal issue—did you end up getting any advice from a lawyer on this issue? If no, why was that?

9. If no legal problem mentioned—If you did have a legal problem, where do you think you might go for help?

If the issue has been addressed above—skip any repetitive questions below.

I would like to ask you about other aspects of your life at the moment, starting with housing and accommodation issues.

Housing

10. What types of places have you lived in the last three months?

11. Have you had any problems staying in your accommodation in the last three months? (e.g. rent increases, eviction, disputes with the landlord, disputes with other tenants or neighbours)

If there was a problem—

12. a. What happened?

b. What did you do about it/where did you go?

c. If something—did they/that help?

d. Was it sorted/is it still an issue for you?

e. If nothing—why is it still a problem?

13. If you did have a problem with housing, where would you go for help with that?

Employment and income

14. What has been your major source of income in the last three months?

Work (type?)

Benefits/payments (type?)

Other

15. If employment—Have you had any problems with your employment recently?

16. If ceased work recently—what happened there?

17. If benefits—Have you had any problems with your government benefit recently? (e.g. eligibility, calculation of benefit level, breaches, review on change of circumstances, allegation of fraud)

If no government benefit is mentioned—have you applied for any benefits in the last three months?

18. If you did have a problem with your pension/at work, where could you go for help?

19. If no other income—why not?

Education

20. Are you currently studying?

21. Have you had any problems relating to your study? (e.g. unfair exclusion or suspension, bullying or harassment)

Credit and debt

22. Have you had any financial problems recently? (e.g. debt, mobile phones, bills, banks, credit cards, someone owing money to you, insurance, unfair contracts, money owed to you)

If there was a problem—

23. a. What happened?

b. What did you do about it/where did you go?

c. If nothing, why was that?

d. If something, did they/that help?

e. Was it sorted/is it still an issue for you?

f. If you did have a legal problem with a debt, where could you go for help?

Family

24. Have you been married/defacto?

25. Do you have kids?

If never married/de facto and no kids, go to Q. 28

26. Have you had legal problems related to your family—divorce, custody, problem with paying or receiving child support?

If there was a problem—

27. a. What happened?

b. What did you do about it?

c. If nothing, why was that?

d. If something, did they/that help?

e. Was it sorted/is it still an issue for you?

Before I move on, I just want to remind you that this is confidential and we will not be identifying any one in the report.

Victim of crime

28. Have you been the victim of a crime recently? (e.g. assault, robbery, stealing?)

If yes to assault—

29. Was that by:

a. A family member

b. Someone else you know

c. Another person

d. Don’t know

30. Did you report that to the police?

31. What happened then?

32. If not reported, why not?

Discrimination

33. Do you feel that you have been unfairly treated by somebody recently? (e.g. at work, school/university, accommodation, in a public place).

Police

34. Have you had any contact with the police in the last three months?

35. If yes, what type of contact have you had with the police?

a. Reported a crime

b. Been asked to “move on” by police

c. Charged with a criminal offence

d. Been taken somewhere by the police

36. Have you had particular problems with police or the law?

a. A problem about unfair treatment by the police, e.g. harassment, assault, false imprisonment, wrongful arrest, malicious prosecution, searches

b. A problem with bail or remand

c. Police failing to respond or investigate a crime

d. Police not identifying/catching/arresting someone who committed a crime against you.

If a problem—

37. a. What happened?

b. What did you do about it?

c. If nothing, why was that?

d. If something, did they/that help?

e. Was it sorted/is it still an issue for you?

38. If you did have a problem with the law or police, who would you go to for help?

39. Have you had any fines—say for fare evasion or littering—in the last three months?

Your health

40. Have you had any injuries or accidents in the last 12 months? (e.g. an injury caused by a car accident; a work-related injury; an injury caused by something else occurring outside the home, e.g. a problem with medical treatment, accident in shopping mall or other public place)

If an injury—

41. a. What happened?

      b. What did you do about it?
c. If nothing, why was that?

d. If something, did they/that help?

e. Was it sorted/is it still an issue for you?

42. In the last 12 months, have you had any of the following problems:

a. Involuntary hospitalisation

b. Other problems with mental health care

43. Are you Aboriginal or a Torres Strait Islander?

44. Record ethnicity

45. Record gender

46. Record age

25 or less

Over 25

Record any communication issues

47. Nature/type of mental illness experienced (only ask if not clear)

That is all I wanted to ask you. Are there any other particular legal issues that we may have missed?

Thanks very much for talking with me about your experiences.

Appendix 5: Participant Contacts

Mentally ill participants were contacted through the following services:

  • South Sydney Youth Services
  • St Vincent de Paul, Ulladulla
  • Como Leisure Centre
  • Ryde Mental Health Consumer Network
  • Centacare, Newcastle
  • Mary McKillop Outreach
  • Matthew Talbot Hostel
  • The Big Issue
  • Salvation Army, Outreach Services


Appendix 6: Consent Form

Access to Justice and Legal Needs Research Program
Participant Information and Consent Form

The Law and Justice Foundation is undertaking a major research program to examine the legal needs of people in NSW. The Foundation is exploring where people go for help and how to make it easier for people to get legal information and legal services when they need it. We are collecting this information to inform service providers and policy makers about the types of legal problems faced by different people in NSW and to discuss ways to improve the access people have to legal information and legal services. I will not be recording your name on any copy of your interview. All the information you provide will be held securely and confidentially, within the law. If you want us to stop asking questions at any stage or if you want a break, that is not a problem. Please just say so and we will stop. If you decide during the interview that you do not want us to use anything you say in our report, please tell us and we will not use it.


1. Do you have any questions about the research or this interview?

YES/NO

2. Are you happy to talk with us for this research?

YES/NO

3. May I tape record our chat, so I am not writing things down while we are talking? I will erase the tape as soon as I have written up the interview.

YES/NO

Signed:

Date:

If you have any concerns about the way this interview was conducted, please contact the LJF Principal Researcher Dr Christine Coumarelos, Ph: 9221 3900.

Appendix 7: Service Definitions

Plain language legal information

Plain language legal information is generic material written about legal issues that people might face. It is available in the form of pamphlets, comic books, by telephone or on the internet. It may be distributed directly to clients or passed on orally through support workers. Plain language legal information provides ‘jargon free’ information about specific laws, legal problems or legal processes, or about where to get legal advice or representation.

Legal advice

Legal advice involves the application of legal information to the individual circumstances a person is facing. Legal advice can be given face-to-face, by telephone or, in some cases, by email. An example of legal advice is when a community legal centre lawyer tells a client what her options are after she has received a letter of demand to pay a debt.

Initial legal assistance

Initial legal assistance is when a lawyer advocates or negotiates a matter for a client, without having to lodge formal court proceedings or commence litigation. An example of legal assistance is when a solicitor writes a letter on the client’s behalf in response to a demand to pay a debt. The vast majority of legal problems are resolved either through direct negotiations or correspondence from a legal professional to the other party.

Legal representation

Legal representation covers services provided by legal professionals that go beyond initial legal advice. These services may include drafting documents (e.g. wills, contracts) and representing a person in a legal matter (e.g. negotiating child residency and contact agreements). Legal representation also includes preparing documents for court appearances (e.g. statements of claim, affidavits), and representing people in court and tribunal processes.

Appendix 8: Legal Services in NSW

These are some of the key services providing free assistance to people with legal problems. There are also a range of specialist services such as the Tenants’ Union for people with tenancy issues and the Welfare Rights Centre for people with social security issues. If you need help in finding an appropriate service, contact LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529.

Law Access NSW

What: legal information, advice and referral

Who: information and referral is available to anyone. Priority for legal advice is given to clients with urgent inquiries, with disabilities, from non-English speaking backgrounds or from rural and regional areas.

Where: via a central call centre and the internet

Website: http://www.lawaccess.nsw.gov.au

Legal Aid Commission of NSW

What: legal advice and minor assistance in all areas of law, legal representation and dispute resolution

Who: free legal advice and minor assistance is available to anyone and is usually limited to 15 minutes: more complex assistance and representation in court is means-tested. Many people have to pay a contribution for legal representation.

Where: head office and 19 regional offices around NSW

Website: http://www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au

Legal Aid NSW Duty Solicitor Service

What: a free legal service available in criminal courts on list days for matters where a possible penalty could include a jail sentence (or the equivalent of). Means-tested (except if someone is applying for bail). Some courts which hear family matters also have a duty solicitor service as do the Children’s Courts.

Who: legal advice and representation

Website: http://www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au

Community legal centres

What: legal information, referral, advice and limited representation. Community legal centres have a particular focus on civil law. Centres vary in the areas of law they cover.

Who: anyone is able to use the service, and services are not means-tested, but there is a focus on providing services to disadvantaged sectors of the community. Representation is usually limited to those matters that are determined to be in the public interest.

Where: there are 19 generalist community legal centres around NSW and more than 11 specialist community legal centres.

Website: http://www.naclc.org.au/centres.html

Chamber registrar service

What: basic legal information and referral. Provides guidance on Local Court procedures and with the drafting of simple documents used in the Local Court.

Does not represent clients in court, determine cases or draft documents of a complex legal nature or documents for use in other tribunals or courts.

Who: anybody is able to use the service

Where: all local courts across NSW

Website: http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lawlink/local_courts/ll_localcourts.nsf/pages/lc_newwebsitecr

Mental Health Advocacy Service, Legal Aid NSW

What: the primary role of this service is to provide representation at Mental Health Act hearings. The two main legal issues the service deals with are compulsory hospitalisation and Compulsory Treatment Orders. Once someone is hospitalised the Mental Health Advocacy Service provides advice on appeals, rights regarding medication and treatment, financial affairs, the Mental Health Review Tribunal, Guardianship Community Treatment Orders and Community Counselling Orders.

Where: Burwood office NSW or via phone statewide.

Pro bono services

Pro bono legal services are provided by private solicitors, legal firms and barristers free or at a reduced fee to clients. Services may offer legal advice, court representation, and other legal work, including drafting documents. Services may also conduct community legal education and provide legal assistance to non-profit organisations. Pro bono services may be provided on a relatively ad hoc basis by individual lawyers or law firms, or in a more coordinated way through the Law Society Pro Bono Scheme.

Aboriginal Legal Services NSW

What: there are six regional Aboriginal Legal Services in NSW. Their role is to provide legal assistance, advocacy and representation to Aboriginal people in the areas of criminal, civil and family law. Some of the services have a larger role involving broader social advocacy for the rights of Aboriginal Australians.



  


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Karras, M, McCarron, E, Gray, A & Ardasinski, S 2006, On the edge of justice: the legal needs of people with a mental illness in NSW, Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, Sydney