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August 18, 2022

Justice Action calls for external overview of mental health

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CCTV footage released by the coroner shows Lismore Base Hospital Mental Health Unit patient wandering the hospital corridors naked and alone before collapsing and dying.

The NSW minister for Health is refuting claims by Justice Action that the 19 recommendations from the review following the death of Miriam Merten at Lismore Hospital would not prevent this event recurring again.

‘The Review team have made comprehensive recommendations to improve leadership, culture and oversight in mental health units,’ said the Minister for Mental Health Tanya Davies.

‘The Government has accepted all 19 recommendations and is committed to ensuring this review is a turning point for the NSW mental health system. The NSW Ministry of Health will now develop a plan outlining how and when each of them recommendations will be implemented.’

However, Justice Actions Coordinator Brett Collins says that the mental health system in NSW is ‘an appalling hotbed of abuse that has to change.’

‘They need to bring in external oversight and they need to put people in control of what is happening to them. They need to treat people with dignity and humanity.’

Collins says that the review itself was inadequate and makes it appear that they are doing something when they are doing nothing.

‘The mental health industry has closed ranks,’ he said. ‘They would like to move on and just make a few tweaks.’

Reduction of seclusion and restraint, greater support and control for people in the mental health system along with the removal or amendment of legislative protections such as s.195 Act have been recommended by Justice Action.

‘In the report the mental health system have accepted all the problems and the solution has to take into account that people are held to account for what occurred. No outsiders have been brought in – how do we change a culture when there is no external oversight? External people must be brought in, families and outsiders need to have access to the people like Miriam Merten.’

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  1. She should have been sent to a protected facility instead of being allowed to wander the public wards abusing staff and patients. This is still happening at Lismore Base Hospital. As recently as last week they had a mental case in emergency abusing and threatening everyone within hearing.

  2. Jasper clearly doesn’t know what they are talking about when it comes to Miriam’s case, Miriam was in a secure unit not in the emergency department.

    There certainly are unhelpful practises towards people experiencing mental health crisis in emergency departments which was acknowledged in the recent report of secultion and restraint health. As Brett Collins has said external oversite must be established to help fix the problems that wjere highlighted in the report one being emergency departments not having adequate areas and skills to deal with people suffereing extreme mental health distress.


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