WAAMH welcomes the introduction to WA Parliament of new Criminal Law (Mental Impairment) Bill 2022

Today has been a long-awaited milestone for WAAMH, our members, advocacy partners, and the people with lived experience and their families who have been impacted by this legislation for the last 26 years.

This morning Attorney-General The Honourable John Quigley MLA, on behalf of the WA Government introduced the Criminal Law (Mental Impairment) Bill 2022 into Parliament, which provides a framework for people with mental impairment in the criminal justice system. WAAMH has been advocating for several years for the current Criminal Law (Mentally Impaired Accused) Act 1996 (CLMIA Act) to be reformed and helped secure the election commitment that has been partly realised today.

This current legislation has long been known to deny people due process, natural justice, and human rights and to compromise public safety by creating barriers to people accessing vital supports and which has been condemned by the United Nations.

WAAMH is pleased to see the Bill implements key recommendations from the 2016 Statutory Review of the CLMIA Act 1996, particularly limiting custody orders to no longer the term the person would likely have received, had they have been found guilty of the offence. We also support the government’s reforms of the judiciary being given the discretion to impose a range of options, such as community-based orders for mentally impaired accused who are found unfit to stand trial; introduce new procedural fairness provisions which provide for rights to appear, appeal and review; and ensure determinations about the release of mentally impaired accused from custody, and the conditions to be attached to such release (if any), are made by the Board but with a right of review before the Supreme Court on an annual basis.

Reforming CLMIA was the very first election commitment made by the now Premier back in 2016 at the inaugural WA Mental Health Conference hosted by WAAMH. WAAMH commends the WA Government for realising this commitment by bringing this legislation to the Parliament, which we expect to be passed early in the 2023 Parliamentary year. We look forward to reviewing the legislation in detail and to supporting the implementation of the Act in due course.