Evaluation of the Mental Health Act 2016 implementation
The Mental Health Act 2016 (MHA 2016) commenced on 5 March 2017, replacing the Mental Health Act 2000 (MHA 2000) which had been in operation for over 10 years.
Although the MHA 2016 maintained the key structures established by the MHA 2000 (including the Mental Health Court, authorised mental health services, and the Mental Health Review Tribunal), a number of significant reforms were introduced which required major implementation efforts from the mental health sector, and the organisations that interact with the sector, to prepare for commencement.
Due to these significant implementation efforts, a public commitment was made to undertake an evaluation of the implementation of the MHA 2016 (the evaluation), within two years of its commencement. The evaluation was conducted by the Mental Health Alcohol and Other Drugs Branch in the Department of Health and commenced in July 2017.
The evaluation sought to gain an understanding of:
- the extent to which key initiatives within the MHA 2016 have been successfully implemented; and
- stakeholder views of the change management processes associated with the implementation of the MHA 2016.
More specifically, the evaluation considered how the changes made by the MHA 2016 meet the objectives and principles of the Act, with particular regard to the use of less restrictive ways (including the use of advance health directives and substitute decision making processes), patient rights focused treatment, and recovery-oriented practices.
The evaluation found that, on balance, the MHA 2016 was effectively implemented and the new provisions of the Act are operating as intended in supporting less restrictive ways and patient rights focused treatment and care. Opportunities for improvement were also identified across three key themes: targeted training and education; refined performance outcome monitoring; and enhanced data quality and analysis.
To support improvements across these areas, the Chief Psychiatrist will work with hospital and health services and other key stakeholder groups to consider the best way to address areas identified for improvement. In addition to the actions identified by the evaluation, the operation of the MHA 2016 will continue to be monitored and policies and practice guidelines will continue to be reviewed and refined to ensure practice issues are addressed as they arise.