This report, commissioned by WCHM and the ACT Women and Mental Health Working Group (WMHWG), aims to identify and document the lived experience of women with mental health issues in accessing legal advice, support, representation and advocacy in the ACT. The report captures the personal stories of women living with mental health issues in the ACT, and the feedback from legal and non-legal services providers and community based organisations that provide support to, or advocate on their behalf. The findings of this report highlighted two main themes in relation to the barriers experienced by women in accessing legal services— personal and ‘systemic’. Both participants and service providers reported that poor education coupled with mental health issues could make it difficult to properly communicate legal issues to the appropriate people. The majority of service providers felt that a lack of education prevented many women from fully completing necessary paperwork and from understanding legal terminology. This contributed to greater fear and anxiety, which would often lead to women giving up on their legal action. In commissioning this research, WCHM and the WMHWG hope to encourage greater consideration, development and implementation of measures that will address these issues in the ACT.

Out of reach – Women living with mental health issues in the ACT access to legal support

Out of reach – Women living with mental health issues in the ACT access to legal support