Victoria Legal Aid

Other support for mental health and disability

Learn where to get legal help and other support for mental health and disability.

Mental health and your rights

How we can help

Our lawyers regularly visit the mental health inpatient units of hospitals in Melbourne, Bendigo, Dandenong and Geelong.

Our other free legal services include help at court. For some matters, we can also provide you with a lawyer to help you run your case.

We also have a range of mental health and disability resources that can help you, including:

Independent Mental Health Advocacy

If you are on a compulsory treatment order advocates from Independent Mental Health AdvocacyExternal Link can support you to have your say about your assessment, treatment and recovery. They will:

  • listen to what you want and talk to you about your options
  • give you information and support to act on your rights
  • work with you so you can have your say
  • refer you to other services as needed.

Find out how you can get supportExternal Link . This service is independent, free and confidential.

Other organisations that can help

Legal services

Your local community legal centreExternal Link can give you legal information and advice. Most services are free.

Mental Health Legal Centre (MHLC)External Link provides a free and confidential legal service to Victorians with a lived experience of mental illness or involvement with the mental health system.

The Law Institute of VictoriaExternal Link can refer you to a private lawyer who can give you legal advice and represent you in court.

You can also find a private lawyer near you through the Law Institute of Victoria’s Legal Referral ServiceExternal Link . All law firms included in the Legal Referral Service provide a free 30-minute interview. Note that the free interview is not 30 minutes of free legal advice. You can use this interview to understand more about the legal issue and discuss the available options and how much they will cost.

Mental health and referral services

The Department of Health is responsible for publicly funded mental health services. They also have a list of mental health service providersExternal Link that offer advice and referral information.

Health Vic has booklets in English and other languagesExternal Link about patient rights that cover:

  • involuntary patients
  • restricted treatment orders
  • security patients
  • electroconvulsive therapy
  • major non-psychiatric treatment
  • non-custodial supervision orders.

Review of compulsory treatment orders

The Mental Health TribunalExternal Link is an independent tribunal that makes decisions about compulsory treatment orders and electroconvulsive treatment (ECT). It hears applications by authorised psychiatrists to make orders and applications seeking revocation (cancellation) of orders.

The Mental Health Tribunal also has a range of publications and formsExternal Link .

Guardianship and administration orders

The Office of the Public AdvocateExternal Link is an independent statutory office, working to promote the interests, rights and dignity of Victorians with a disability. It provides advice about advocacy, guardianship, powers of attorney (including enduring guardianship) and consent to medical and dental treatment.

The Guardianship List of the Victorian Civil and Administrative TribunalExternal Link makes orders, such as guardianship and administration orders for people over 18 who may not be able to make reasonable decisions about themselves, their circumstances, or their financial and legal affairs.

Complaints

The Mental Health Complaints CommissionerExternal Link investigates complaints about publicly funded mental health service providers.

The Health Complaints CommissionerExternal Link helps people with concerns about their health service providers, including privacy of health information.

The Victorian OmbudsmanExternal Link investigates actions and decisions by:

  • government departments
  • public statutory bodies, and
  • municipal (local) councils.

If you have not been treated fairly by the police, we have information on how you can make a complaint about police.

You can also make a complaint about harassment or discrimination.

Support services

Other services that may be able to help you are:

Disability Support Pension

Contact us for free information about the law and how we can help you to get support with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

We can help with some NDIS appeals. If we can’t help you, we can refer you to other organisations that can.

How we can help

We may be able to help you with an external review in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) by providing a free legal representative from our organisation. If you have already asked for an external review in the AAT, we also may be able to represent you if you meet our guidelines for legal assistance and an NDIS internal review decision has been made to:

  • not let you join the NDIS
  • stop you being part of the NDIS
  • not fund (or limit) particular supports in your plan
  • limit funding to you because of compensation you have received.

To apply for legal assistance please complete the form Application for NDIS Appeals Legal ServicesExternal Link and email it to ndis@vla.vic.gov.au or post to:

Grants and Quality Assurance
GPO Box 4380
Melbourne VIC 3001

You may be able to get assistance from a disability advocacy organisation to prepare and lodge an application for legal assistance with our organisation.

Disability advocacy organisations

Disability advocacy organisations provide free individual advocacy and information for people with a disability in Victoria.

They may be able to provide help with preparing an application for legal assistance. They may also be able to help you with asking for an internal and external review in the AAT. You can find local advocacy organisations via the Disability Advocacy FinderExternal Link . You can also use the finder to locate disability advocacy organisations with expertise in your disability or other circumstances.

More information

We may also be able to help war veterans, war widows, and their dependants with some legal matters about pensions and payments.

We may be able to provide assistance for appeals to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal from a decision of the Veterans’ Review Board for:

  • decisions about pensions for war-caused injury, disease or death
  • some decisions about incapacity payments and compensation payments for permanent impairment relating to warlike or non-warlike service.

War veterans do not need to satisfy a means test to get a grant of legal assistance.

Other organisations that can help

Social Security Rights Victoria

Social Security Rights VictoriaExternal Link is a community legal centre that provides assistance, including legal help, to people with social security problems.

Community legal centres

Your local community legal centreExternal Link can give you legal information and advice. Most services are free.

Legal Aid Commissions (outside Victoria)

Your local legal aid commissionExternal Link can give you information and advice.

Economic Justice Australia

Economic Justice AustraliaExternal Link is a network of community legal centres throughout Australia that specialise in social security law.

See a list of all our free publications and resourcesExternal Link .

We also have a video on Centrelink debts.

Economic Justice Australia

A range of fact sheets about Centrelink and social security matters are on the Economic Justice Australia websiteExternal Link .

Centrelink

Centrelink has online estimatorsExternal Link to help you estimate or compare various payments that you might get based on your circumstances.

The Services Australia website has information about Centrelink, including:

The Guide to Australian Government paymentsExternal Link also has information about eligibility and payment rates for a wide range of Centrelink payments.

The Law Handbook

The Law Handbook from Fitzroy Legal Service has information about Centrelink payments and eligibility requirements:

Insurance discrimination

Other organisations that can help

Consumer Action Law Centre

The Consumer Action Law CentreExternal Link gives free legal advice and representation to vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers across Victoria. If you are an individual consumer in a dispute with a credit provider, the centre can give you free advice on your rights and obligations.

Their resources and toolkitsExternal Link assist consumers and consumer advocates to deal directly with complaints, disputes and problems arising in the consumer marketplace.

National Debt Helpline

The National Debt Helpline and live chat serviceExternal Link can help with debt problems by explaining your rights, giving legal information and referring you to a financial counsellor.

Consumer Affairs Victoria

Consumer Affairs VictoriaExternal Link provides advice to consumers, businesses and other organisations. You can contact them to:

Do Not Call Register

Register your home, personal mobile or fax number to the Do Not Call RegisterExternal Link to reduce telemarketing calls. Registration is free.

Complaints

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) can help you take action to resolve a consumer problem. For information about how to make a complaint and your consumer rights, read the ACCC websiteExternal Link .

If you can't sort out problems with your electricity, gas (natural or LPG) or water provider and need help you can contact the Energy and Water Ombudsman (Victoria)External Link . Their website answers some of the most common questions and give you advice to assist you to handle your own enquiries and complaints. They also have an online chat service.

If you can’t resolve a complaint directly with your telephone company or internet provider contact the Telecommunications Industry OmbudsmanExternal Link .

The Victorian OmbudsmanExternal Link provides information on what to do if you have a complaint about a Victorian government body, and how they can help.

Consumer credit ombudsman service

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA)External Link is a free service for people who borrow money from credit companies(or other financial service providers), insurance companies and superannuation trustees.

Lenders have to be a member of this service. They have to tell you about this service and your rights when you make a contract.

You must complain directly to the company before you make a complaint to AFCAExternal Link .

Resources about insurance discrimination

See a list of all our free publications and resourcesExternal Link .

Consumer Affairs Victoria

The Consumer Affairs Victoria websiteExternal Link has information to help buyers with their rights when they are shopping, including:

  • bag searches
  • shop breakages
  • refunds
  • buying a car
  • shopping online
  • getting goods repaired or replaced
  • getting a refund.

Consumer Action Law Centre

The Consumer Action Law CentreExternal Link website has information to help consumers with:

  • resolving a dispute about goods and services
  • making a complaint
  • what to do if your purchase is faulty.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)External Link website includes information and publications for consumer and businesses. There is information about shopping online, protecting yourself from scams, getting a refund, warranties, how to write a complaint letter and consumer protection.

Australian Communications Consumer Action Network

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN)External Link website has information about your rights for phones and the internet, including information about:

  • choosing a mobile phone plan
  • travelling overseas with a mobile
  • tracking data and internet use
  • avoiding scams
  • connecting and using your NBN home phone service.

Victorian Ombudsman

The Victorian Ombudsman websiteExternal Link has information about making complaints about services from local councils, Victorian universities and TAFEs and other government organisations such as VicRoads or Fines Victoria.

Other ways we can help

Contact us for free information about the law and how we can help you with your mental health legal problem.

If we can’t help, we can refer you to other organisations that can.

Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

We help Victorians with their legal problems and represent those who need it most. Find legal answers, chat with us online, or call us. You can speak to us in English or ask for an interpreter. You can also find more legal information at www.legalaid.vic.gov.au

Reviewed 13 May 2022

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