Transformational partnerships

Chris Maylea is a social worker, lawyer and Associate Professor of Law, who specialises in law in the context of health and welfare

He provides advice to government and policy reform bodies, has served as Chair and Deputy Chair of the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council and appears before the Victorian Mental Health Tribunal as a legal representative. Maylea is author of over 50 peer-reviewed publications and commissioned reports, and a book titled 'Social work and the Law: A Guide for Ethical Practice'.

His research and teaching partnerships are generating positive change in society and higher education.

Evaluating programs

Maylea and his team worked with Victoria Legal Aid to evaluate their Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) service, which provides non-legal advocacy to people at risk of and who are being compulsorily treated under mental health legislation. The research team included people with a lived experience of compulsory treatment, and consulted stakeholders to understand the impact of the service and identify improvements.

The result: The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System cited the evaluation and recommended that the service be expanded to ensure access for all.

“Through this partnership, both industry and academia benefited from sharing knowledge and expertise, and researchers helped to bring a human rights lens to the services,” Maylea says.

Now, Maylea is leading a team to design a model of service to ensure everyone who is eligible can get access to independent advocacy.

Transforming wellbeing

Equally Well is a national initiative that support those with mental health challenges.

It brings together key stakeholders including individuals, researchers, government and non-government organisations, health services and clinicians to improve outcomes for those accessing mental health services.

Through Equally Well, Maylea is developing a series of online resources for individuals and clinicians.

“One of these resources is a self-advocacy tool that we will codesign with people who use mental health services. This tool will support people to better navigate the physical and mental healthcare systems,” explains Maylea.

“It is important to ensure we address the human right to health, and health without discrimination. Equally Well is about mobilising partnerships between universities, services, policy makers and people in the mental health system.”

“Ultimately, these partnerships are about having an impact on the practices of individuals, services, government policy, and societal structures themselves, so people can live healthy and happy lives that are free of oppression.”

Find out more about the La Trobe Law School on the website and LinkedIn.