There has recently been discussions and media attention surrounding whistleblowing in mental health in Tasmania around North West Spencer Clinic. Whistleblowing, or making disclosures in the public interest, is a form of advocacy – which is one of the underpinning ethics for nurses.
Advocacy from nurses, patients and carers, leads to change. Recent discussions have centred on events of the 1990s, with the launch of a book focused on Spencer Clinic. However, with such advocacy occurring over the past 20 years the profile of mental health in Tasmania has been raised, with the government announcing an overhaul of the system, the Rethink Mental Health Plan, last year.
No health system is perfect; however mental health services are far more contemporary in their practices than 20 years ago.
ANMF Branch Secretary Mrs Neroli Ellis states, “Professional skilled mental health staff are available at Spencer Clinic, should a person require mental health services, and no individual or their family need be without the reassurance that a high level of care is provided.”
Various laws now govern the provisions of mental health care in Tasmania, and important advocacy groups such as the Mental Health Council of Tasmania, Flourish, and Mental Health Carers Tasmania also drive systemic and service delivery change and person-centred care to meet the ongoing needs of patients and their families. Flourish CEO, Julia Fassina states, “Flourish does advocate on behalf of consumers by consumers as we are a consumer lead organization.”
Mental Health Council of Tasmania CEO, Connie Digolis, would like to ensure that this publication does not deter anyone from seeking help when they need it.
“The mental health sector has come a long way since the 1990s and now we are again in a state of reform and change. I would hope that a book such as this serves as a reminder of the progress we have made and that we now look forward to a much better future for mental health care in Tasmania, “ said Ms Digolis.
As the World Health Organisation has stated, ‘Advocacy can lead to improvements in policy, legislation and service development’.
“Families and carers are active advocates and representatives for people with mental ill health and provide on-going feedback to mental health services about the quality of care and service provision” stated Maxine Griffiths AM, CEO of Mental Health Carers Tasmania Inc.
ANMF Branch Secretary Mrs Neroli Ellis states, “Nurses advocate for their patients on a daily basis, with other practitioners and other agencies, they advocate to reduce stigma in the community and empower individuals, and they advocate for improved health care.”
“That nurses seek out improvement for the care of their patients is something to be proud of, for no matter how well care may be provided on that daily basis, we can and do seek out a way for future care to be better.”
Advice on how to report sensitively and accurately on mental health can be found at:
Media Contact: Neroli Ellis 0408 037 589