The Just Saying Project is inspired by the many Victorian consumers who receive voluntary treatment in hospital but who are unsure about their rights or where to go for help when they feel like their rights may have been breached.
People receiving compulsory treatment have many rights that are underpinned by the Mental Health Act 2014, however there is considerably less information available to voluntary consumers in relation to their rights when receiving inpatient treatment. Almost half of all those in in-patient care are treated on a voluntary basis, however the knowledge that we could be made compulsory at any time often means that we are often either unaware of our rights or scared that asserting them may well lead to compulsory treatment.
‘A voluntary patient can be admitted to hospital but is free to leave whenever they want. A compulsory patient is a person who has been assessed by a psychiatrist and put on a compulsory treatment order. They can receive treatment against their wishes while they are in the community or as an inpatient in hospital.’Victorian Legal Aid
For this reason, VMIAC initiated the ‘Just Saying’ project in order to ensure that voluntary consumers are aware of their rights and how to exercise them, hopefully even before they are at risk of being put on a compulsory treatment order.
Our project began with a request for legal advice from Victorian Legal Aid. We want to ensure that consumers who are receiving voluntary treatment within a mental health service are aware of their rights and know what to do if a service does not uphold these rights. We have carefully framed this advice into a question-and-answer format for ease of understanding.
This information is here on our website and also provided within mental health services as a series of postcards and via a ‘slap band’ memory stick for those consumers with computer access. VMIAC hopes that all consumers will find this information useful and that it will help to ensure that voluntary consumers are treated only with their fully informed consent and without fear of coercion.