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.
So what resources are available?
We have worked with Victorian Legal Aid to develop a list of 16 questions that people had about their rights as a voluntary in-patient consumers. These questions have been answered in collaboration with IMHA and Victorian Legalaid.
These resources will be made available in wards, with peer workers and digital versions can be downloaded here via our website!
Our 10 Consumer Rights postcards are each comprised of 1 or 2 questions answers to common questions consumers had about their voluntary in-patient rights.
We would like to thank all of the support and advice we have received on this project from both Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) and Victorian Legal AID (VLA)
IMHA is a state-wide advocacy service for people at risk of or receiving compulsory treatment under the Mental Health Act 2014 (Vic). IMHA advocates support and assist eligible people to make, and be involved in, decisions about their mental health assessment, treatment and recovery.
This may include: talking with a person to discuss and clarify their preferences and wishes, providing information about the mental health system and assisting a person to understand their rights and to act on them e.g. in respect of Advance Statements and/or Nominated Persons, engaging directly with a person’s treating team, support people or other services, or providing support and coaching for a person to self-advocate and referring people to other support services, if the person requests this.
Contact IMHA at 1800 959 353 or visit www.imha.vic.gov.au
Victoria Legal Aid
Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) helps people with their legal problems.
It provides free legal advice, information and education to all
Victorians, with a focus on prevention and early resolution of legal
VLA’s Mental Health and Disability Law service provides advice and representation in relation to laws that impact the liberty, dignity and autonomy of people with a mental health diagnosis or cognitive disability, including for hearings at the Mental Health Tribunal. We work to minimise restrictions on these rights as well as help to ensure the justice and health systems operate fairly.
Contact VLA on 1300 792 387 or visit www.legalaid.vic.gov.au/