Advocacy Tasmania is about supporting people to speak up, have their say and to make sure that their rights are protected. Their advocacy services are free, confidential and available across Tasmania. Their advocates support clients to have their voices heard on issues that, due to their age, disability, mental illness or drug use, stop them from exercising their right to choice and control.
Advocacy Tasmania also coordinates a special group of volunteers dedicated to helping people living with a mental illness.
Under Tasmanian law, the Mental Health Tribunal (MHT) is responsible for issuing mental health treatment orders, which can require people to remain in hospital and receive involuntary treatment. Advocacy Tasmania identified that people required to attend a Hearing were often unrepresented at a time when major decisions about their liberty and life choices were being decided.
In response to this, Advocacy Tasmania developed the Mental Health Tribunal Representation Scheme (MHTRS). Since 2003 a group of dedicated volunteers has operated statewide supporting people through the MHT process. Some feedback from those who have been assisted include:
“It was nice to have someone to just sit with me at the Hearing. I have nobody else who can help me to understand what is going on. Thank you.”
“The person you sent to go with me to my Hearing was wonderful. I was so nervous and I just don’t think I could have done it without her. If I have to go again will you please send someone along.”
The MHTRS relies on its committed and state-wide volunteers to provide this invaluable support. Volunteers complete a comprehensive online training program covering, but not limited to, Tasmania’s Mental Health Act, facts and myths about mental illness, stigma and discrimination, consumer and carer rights, capacity and consent and the Mental Health Tribunal. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer representative, you can contact their MHTRS Manager on 1800 005 131 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to learn more about how the Mental Health Act operates in Tasmania, you can complete their online training package here.
Advocacy Tasmania also work with people with disability and mental illness, people who use alcohol or drugs and older people. They can also assist people with the NDIS, including access, planning, reviews, appeals and complaints. More information on the scope of their Individual Advocacy service is available on their website. www.advocacytasmania.org.au.