Victoria Legal Aid

Report on compulsory treatment

The Report on Compulsory Treatment is the report that the treating psychiatrist, together with the treating team, must prepare for a treatment order hearing.

The Report on Compulsory Treatment must be prepared by the treating psychiatrist, together with the treating team, before a treatment order hearing (irrespective of how the hearing was initiated) (Mental Health Act Rules 2014, r. 14). The report summarises the treating team’s evidence as to why a treatment order should be made (r. 13). The report should also include a person’s advance statement and any second psychiatric opinion, where available (Mental Health Act Rules, r. 14).

Note: Hearings regarding electroconvulsive treatment (ECT) require preparation of a specific report. Similarly, the tribunal has a modified template for treatment order reports for inpatients in SECUs.

The report should include the following information:
  • the person’s personal and clinical background
  • why the psychiatrist believes the treatment criteria apply
  • why the person was put on a treatment order
  • what happened shortly before they were admitted to hospital or put on the treatment order
  • what mental illness the psychiatrist has diagnosed and the symptoms observed
  • the treatment being given and its effects on the symptoms
  • the treatment that the psychiatrist plans to provide in the future
  • why the psychiatrist thinks that treatment is needed and for how long
  • what the psychiatrist thinks would happen if the person did not get that treatment
  • the person’s views and preferences about treatment
  • whether the treatment can be obtained in the community
  • why the psychiatrist thinks the person cannot get the treatment voluntarily (and so needs to be on a treatment order to get that treatment)
  • the proposed duration of the order, and why.

The report should also include a person’s advance statement and any second psychiatric opinion (Mental Health Act Rules, r. 14).

Hearings regarding electroconvulsive treatment (ECT) require preparation of a specific report.

Practice tip

Check if your client has been given a copy of the report at least 48 hours prior to the hearing (s. 191(1)). A member of the treating team should have also explained to the person the contents of the report (with an interpreter if necessary), in accordance with section 8 of the Mental Health Act 2014 (Vic). For more information, see:

Going through the report with your client

It’s important your client understands the following:

  • what evidence the treating team are putting forward about each of the criteria
  • the type and duration of the order sought
  • they have the opportunity to respond to what the treating team have said.

Practice tip

Your client may find this process difficult and distressing, particularly if they disagree with much of the contents of the report. Reassure your client that the report is only the treating team’s version of events, and they will have an opportunity to put forward their own version. You can also explain that you can assist them in doing this.

Try to elicit your client’s responses to the report, in particular their views about:

  • mental illness and the symptoms the psychiatrist says justify this conclusion
  • past issues or specific incidents in the report (including aggression or allegations of harm to themselves or others) when they occurred, in what context and why they are no longer a concern
  • allegations of non-compliance or relapse in the past and their explanation or context for what occurred
  • why the situation would be different now, and any protective factors that mitigate against the consequences becoming ‘serious’
  • the accuracy of the information and allegations in the report and the source of that information
  • the specific treatment(s) proposed and any other views and preferences about medication or other treatment
  • the plan the treating team have proposed for treatment follow up (consultation with the psychiatrist, appointments with a case manager)
  • any other relevant information that is not in the report.

For more detail about engaging with your client on each of the four criteria you can refer to the ‘Taking instructions section' for each of the four treatment criteria. You can also get further information on the type and duration of the order to assist you to get relevant instructions for each of these issues.

Practice tips

  • Arrange to meet with your client once they have received a copy of the report on compulsory treatment so you can make sure you cover off the issues raised by the treating team.
  • Check whether your client has been given a copy of the report on compulsory treatment and had it explained to them (including with an interpreter, where required) at least 48 hours before to the hearing (ss. 191, 8).
  • If your client needs an interpreter, the clinic or hospital may be able to arrange an interpreter to attend your appointment. If not, ask them for a room with a phone that has a speaker phone function so you can call an interpreter.
  • You can request a copy of the report either from the client themselves directly, or from the person who co-ordinates the Mental Health Tribunal hearings at the hospital or community mental health service. You may need your client’s written authority for release of information to access the report and other information, such as their clinical file.

More information

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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.

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Reviewed 24 March 2022

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