Victoria Legal Aid

Rights of people receiving compulsory treatment

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 explains the rights of people receiving mental health and wellbeing services, including mental health treatment. It also explains the rights of their family and carers.

Mental health laws in Victoria changed on 1 September 2023. You can read more about these important changes on the Department of Health websiteExternal Link .

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 explains the rights of people receiving mental health and wellbeing services, including mental health treatment. It also explains the rights of their family and carers.

You must be told about your rights under the Act, and the process of being assessed or treated, including the right to:

  • communicate
  • have your preferences considered
  • get support to make treatment decisions.

Mental health and wellbeing principles

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022External Link explains your rights if you are receiving mental health and wellbeing services.

Psychiatrists, doctors and staff at mental health and wellbeing services, as well as the Mental Health Tribunal, must try as much as possible to comply with these principles when deciding what happens to you.

There are also ‘decision-making principles’ that apply when decisions are made about treatment, compulsory treatment and restrictive interventions.

Read more about the new mental health and wellbeing principles in the Department of Health’s Handbook to the new Mental Health and Wellbeing ActExternal Link .

Statement of rights

If you are being assessed for, or are put on, a compulsory treatment order (temporary or longer term), you must be given a copy of the order and a 'statement of rights’. The statement of rights is a document that explains your rights under the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022. It also explains what your psychiatrist needs to do or think about when assessing you, giving you treatment or making decisions that affect you while you are receiving a mental health and wellbeing service. There are different statements of rights for different situations.

When you are given the statement of rights, it’s important that you are supported to understand what it means. This could happen in different ways, including:

  • Someone explaining your statement of rights in a way you can understand
  • using an interpreter or giving you the statement which has been translated into your preferred language, or
  • answering any questions you may have as clearly and fully as possible.

You can find the statements of rights on the Department of Health’s websiteExternal Link , including translations into community languages.

The right to communicate freely

You have a right to communicate lawfully if you are being held for compulsory treatment.

Communication is being able to:

  • send or receive letters
  • make or receive telephone calls
  • communicate via electronic means, and
  • receive visitors at a mental health facility at reasonable times.

You should be allowed to communicate privately and without censorship.

An authorised psychiatrist can restrict your right to communicate if necessary to protect your health, safety and wellbeing or that of another person.

An authorised psychiatrist who restricts your right to communicate must take reasonable steps to provide information about the restriction and the reason for it. They must inform you, your nominated person, a guardian, a carer, or a parent if you are under the age of 16.

However, an authorised psychiatrist can't stop you from communicating with:

More information

For information about how you can protect your rights and have your preferences for treatment respected, read Having control over your treatment.

Other support

Find out how you can get other support for mental health and disability.

Publications and resources

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 01 September 2023

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