The Centre for Innovative Justice (CIJ) and the Mental Health Legal Centre (MHLC) have formed a strategic partnership.
The two organisations are co-located and the MHLC provides clinical experience and volunteering opportunities for RMIT University students from a range of disciplines such as law, justice studies and social work, with a view to expand the opportunities to a range of other disciplines.
Multidisciplinary practice (MDP) happens when different professions with specialised skills and expertise work together to provide an enhanced service to clients. This is often through reaching solutions based on new understandings of complex situations. It is an opportunity for professionals to collaborate in a holistic way to create lasting change and improvement in the lives of people that access the service.
In the case of the Mental Health Legal Centre, the MDP involves qualified lawyers and a social worker together with law and social work students working collaboratively to support the clients of the Mental Health Legal Centre with integrated social work and legal assistance.
Needs of clients accessing community legal centres are often complex and require creative responses. Sometimes it can be difficult to separate the legal issues from the social issues. The law cannot provide solutions for all the challenges facing vulnerable people. Sometimes clients presenting with legal issues can find themselves with future legal issues if the social issues affecting them are not resolved. The CIJ/MHLC partnership provides greater capacity to meet the complex legal needs of people with mental illness and to help break the cycle of crime.
The partnership also strengthens the link between research and practical outcomes and boosts the MHLC’s education, research and advocacy capacity, enabling it to be innovative in its approach to service delivery, and providing practical learning opportunities for students across RMIT.