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Background

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The Mental Health Rights Manual (the Manual) is an online guide to legal and human rights and the service system that supports people living with mental health conditions in NSW. The 4th Edition which was released in 2015 incorporates, as far as is possible the most recent available information about state and national legislative reform and government policy directions. Written in plain English, this invaluable freely accessible resource brings together information useful to anyone needing to navigate the complex mental health, legal, and human service systems in NSW, enabling them to learn about their rights, find where they can access support, information and guidance for themselves or those that they wish to assist. The Manual as now presented in its ‘new look’ version, is designed to align technically with MHCC’s recently upgraded website. This will enable us to better maintain the resource as a ‘living document’.

Whilst there is an abundance of specifically targeted information available, there is no other resource that brings together such a broad diversity  of topics that affects people living with mental health and psychosocial difficulties. It describes the interface between the medical, legal and the human service systems as they interact in NSW, including the NDIS. The Manual speaks to a diverse mental health and disability community  but has been developed specifically for people with mental health conditions, their carers, families and support persons and the workforce across community and public services and programs.

The 4th Edition of the Manual was undertaken by the Mental Health Coordinating Council (MHCC) with the support of the Mental Health Commission of NSW. MHCC managed and coordinated the material which was co-authored by Corinne Henderson (MHCC) who has overseen the project since 2009. Co-author and consultant to the project was Phillip French, a lawyer with extensive national and international experience in the mental health, disability, human rights context, is in practice in NSW and is a Member of NCAT and the MHRT.

The previous 3rd Edition of this Manual was produced in a partnership between The Mental Health Coordinating Council (MHCC) and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC). The 4th Edition which  expanded on that work acknowledges the  value of PIAC’s contribution that laid the structural foundation for future editions.

MHCC acknowledge the significance of all the contributors to this and earlier editions which included extensive input from people with lived experience of mental health conditions, carers, family and support persons, as well as agency and public service officials, health care and community service workers, clinicians and advocates.

Keeping the Manual user-friendly has been a particular focus of all involved in the development of this Manual; ensuring as much as possible that it is accessible as well as comprehensive.  The ‘new look’ web resource offers the resource in a more contemporary format which improves navigation across the service system and within the resource. We anticipate continued widespread approval as  previously evidenced by MHCC’s annual product evaluation in which users confirmed the Manual remains a highly valued and utilised resource.