Penelope (Penny) Weller has conducted and published research that explores coercive care and the application of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
She discusses her active contribution to the advancement of mental health law, enhancing rights and wellbeing of people and the recovery-oriented movement.
What is your current research / teaching focus?
I’ve always been interested in understanding the ways in which the law contributes to the marginalisation of vulnerable individuals and groups. Wherever possible, I work collaboratively with consumers of mental health services to progress my research.
At the moment, I am coordinating Human Rights Law and Jurisprudence, where I assist students with understanding integrated contexts of law and developing advanced skills for analysing complex problems.
At present, I am also one of the lead investigators overseeing the implementation phase of the Principles Unite Local Services Assisting Recovery (PULSAR) project.
What is the PULSAR project - what is your role?
The PULSAR project is a training and research project testing the recovery oriented intervention in mental health services in the southern region. It is a joint collaboration with Mind Australia, ERMHA, Monash Health and Primary Health Care funded by the Victorian Government’s Mental Illness Research Fund (MIRF).
This project involves community health services, primary care and the community managed sector as a mechanism supporting recovery-oriented practice and revealing how these services can collaborate to assist with achieving recovery goals of patients.
Interventions are implemented and evaluated to develop training material and tools that facilitate a positive and effective collaboration of mental health services to provide a unified recovery oriented practice.
Recovery oriented practice is a new approach to mental health care, moving away from the medical model of illness by implementing a chime framework. My role is to oversee the training and coaching sessions as the chair of the implementation module.
Explain the impact of your previous research – who does it benefit and how?
My research has been influential in mental health law reform in Tasmania, the ACT, Western Australia, Queensland, Victoria and Northern Ireland. My involvement in the reform process across several states has assisted in the shift of mental health legislation to more closely align with the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It benefits those affected by creating a better legal framework governing compulsory mental health treatment.
What has been the proudest moment in your research / teaching career?
My proudest moment was being appointed director of the Juris Doctor program at RMIT University. As Director, I have the opportunity to improve and shape the future direction of the program. It is a privilege to ensure that current and future students have participated in an outstanding program.
Story: Monaliza Platini