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Trauma, Mental Illness and the Law


The Hobart Trauma Network met November 2018 to hear a panel discussion on Trauma, Mental Illness and the Law. 

The panel session with open Q&A discussed the interface between the mental health and legal system. 

The informative panel included:

  • Dr Aaron Groves, Chief Psychiatrist, Tasmania
  • Iggy Kim, Clinical Nurse Consultant and Clinical Lead, Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service
  • Detective Inspector Kim Steven, Tasmania Police Mental Health Liaison Officer (MHLO)
  • Marita O’Connell, Occupational therapist and Mental Health Court Liaison Officer
  • David Cocker, Mental Health and Disability Lawyer.

The Q&A session was facilitated by retired Chief Magistrate Michael Hill. Michael played a major role in the introduction of the Mental Health Diversional List, the court-mandated drug diversion program and has been a strong advocate for a therapeutic approach within legal systems.

Debbie Hewson one of the coordinators said: “The interface between the mental health and legal system regularly encounters people whose lives have been shaped and harmed by traumatic events, although the effects of unresolved trauma are not always apparent. This can result in complex interactions as people who have experienced trauma endeavour to navigate their way through obtaining aid in the mental health and legal systems.

There was great audience participation attracting over 80 attendees, the session enabled further understanding, and more in-depth questioning of how we can work better as a system to assist those experiencing trauma, navigate both the mental health and the legal system".

The meeting was arranged by the network coordinators: Katie Henderson, Luke Cripps, Debbie Hewson and Serena King. Thank you to Debbie Hewson for this article.