Thursday, October 7, 2010


I am proud to have been associated with the New South Wales Institute of Psychiatry (“the Institute”), as both a lawyer and an educator, since 2002.

The Institute, which was established by the New South Wales Institute of Psychiatry Act 1964 (NSW) under which it is constituted, and which governs its operations, is a major provider of continuing professional education in mental health in Australia.

Although the Institute is a statutory body independent of any individual university or teaching institution, it has university-equivalent status, having been granted approval to offer a number of courses up to Masters level, with agreements of affiliation with several Australian universities. The Institute is also a member of the World Health Organization Collaborative Centre in Mental Health and Substance Abuse in Australia.

Through its Board the Institute is directly responsible to the NSW Minister for Health. The Institute provides training for health care professionals, psychiatrists-in-training, consumers and staff of non-government organisations, general practitioners and the public ... and, yes, the Institute even runs courses and workshops on mindfulness, which the Institute endorses.

The Accredited Persons Training Program was conceived in 2002 and introduced in 2003, after amendments had been effected to the then Mental Health Act 1990 (NSW), in response to concerns that a scarcity of medical practitioners in some areas were hampering or delaying the initiation of treatment for people with mental health problems and associated risk factors. 

Senior mental health clinicians who have at least 5 years experience of working with patients are able to be nominated by the local Director of the Area Mental Health Service for training as Accredited Persons. 

These clinicians undergo a 2-day training workshop carried out by NSWIOP where they get specialised training (including legal training) in the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW) and related rules of law as well as in the assessment of those suffering from psychosis. Once qualified they are then registered as Accredited Persons for a period of 3 years. 

At the end of that 3 year period they are required to undergo a refresher course in order to become qualified again for another 3 years. Accredited Persons are able to write Schedule 1 Certificates in order to transport patients to hospital as an involuntary patient where they are assessed again by a qualified psychiatrist.

I have been continuously involved in the Accredited Persons Training Program as a lecturer (and at times also as an examiner) right from its beginnings---program development began in 2002, with the first training sessions commencing in 2003---to the present day, both as a lecturer and at times as an examiner as well. Although I have taught for long periods at other tertiary educational institutions (most notably, the University of Technology, Sydney), my association with the New South Wales Institute of Psychiatry has been the highlight and most satisfying part of my teaching career. At the risk of sounding immodest---yes, I still have an ego which needs pruning, lopping or even topping---I regularly receive solid, positive feedback from those who attend my lectures and workshops at the Institute. Feedback on my performance from course participants includes the following:

We all agree that Dr Ian Ellis-Jones is a legal legend and machine who invokes robust debate, participation and expression of opinion in the most passive of people.

(Source: Email communication dated 6 January 2012 from Peter Bazzana, Mental Health Educator at the Institute, and member of the NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal, to myself.)

Another more recent program offered by the Institute with which I am involved as program co-developer and lecturer is a special training program on the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Act 2007 (NSW). Under this Act an accredited medical practitioner can issue a dependency certificate that means the person can be detained for up to 28 days in the first instance.

A dependency certificate may be issued in relation to the person only if the accredited medical practitioner is satisfied that (i) the person has a severe substance dependence, (ii) care, treatment or control of the person is necessary to protect the person from serious harm, (iii) the person is likely to benefit from treatment for his or her substance dependence but has refused treatment, and (iv) no other appropriate and less restrictive means for dealing with the person are reasonably available. The accredited medical practitioner can also take into account any serious harm that may occur to children in the care of the person, or other dependants.

Attendees at the 2-day D&A training workshop are highly experienced D&A treatment and rehabilitation health care professionals, being either medical practitioners or what are known as "involuntary treatment liasion officers" (registered psychiatric nurses and other mental health workers) who provide assistance to accredited medical practitioners as respects the performance of their duties under the Act.

In addition to my lecturing duties and responsibilities at the Institute, I also provide a range of legal services to the Institute including but not limited to ongoing advice on the meaning, interpretation and practical application of the various pieces of NSW and other legislation pertaining to mental health.

Mr Peter Bazzana has kindly written these words:

Dr Ian Ellis-Jones is a highly valued consultant to a number of programs at the NSW Institute of Psychiatry. He has consistently demonstrated his excellent skills as both a writer and a presenter. His workshops are consistently highly evaluated by the mental health professionals who attend.


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