Mental Health Act 2014

Focus of the Act

The Mental Health Act came into effect on 1 July 2014. It sets out a framework intended to promote recovery-oriented practice, minimise compulsory treatment and protect and support the rights of people living with mental illness. These include rights to:

  • make advance statements
  • communicate privately with people outside a mental health service, including lawyers specifically, and have visitors
  • nominate support people, who can receive information and support decision-making
  • request second psychiatric opinions
  • be given a statement of rights when being assessed or having an order made about their treatment for mental illness.


Old and new terminology in the legislation

Under the old ActIn the new ActSection/part
Mental Health Review Board (MHRB)Mental Health Tribunal (MHT)Part 8
Involuntary treatmentCompulsory treatmentPart 4 Compulsory Patients
Involuntary patientCompulsory patient– a person who is subject to:

(a) an assessment order
(b) a court assessment order
(c) a temporary treatment order
(d) a treatment order.

s. 3
Request and recommendationAssessment order

  • 24 hrs or 24 hrs after admission (and possibly up to 96 hours) for inpatients
  • made by doctor or mental health practitioner if person meets assessment order criteria, allows for compulsory examination and detention (if inpatient)

Note: Criteria only requires a person to ‘appear to have mental illness’.

Part 4, Division 1
Involuntary treatment orderTreatment order (community or inpatient)

  • temporary treatment order (authorised psychiatrist, 28 days max – or potentially 42 if the tribunal extends it in light of exceptional circumstances)
  • treatment order (Mental Health Tribunal, if <16yo, max 3 months, if 16 and over, duration max 12 months community, 6 months inpatient)
Part 4, Division 4
AppealApplication for revocations. 60
Treatment plan[No equivalent, but see statement of rights regarding process, advance statements, nominated persons, and Part 5]Part 3 Protection of rights, Part 5 Treatment
Treatment criteriaTreatment criteria

The treatment criteria for a person to be made subject to a temporary treatment order or treatment order are:

(a) the person has mental illness; and (b) because the person has mental illness, the person needs immediate treatment to prevent:

(i) serious deterioration in the person’s mental or physical health, or
(ii) serious harm to the person or to another person, and

(c) the immediate treatment will be provided to the person if the person is subject to a temporary treatment order or treatment order, and

(d) there is no less restrictive means reasonably available to enable the person to receive the immediate treatment.

s. 5
Treatment criteriaAdvance statement

An advance statement is a document that sets out a person’s preferences in relation to treatmentin the event thatthe person becomes a patient.

Part 3, Division 3
Treatment criteriaNominated person

The role of a nominated person in relation to a patient is to:

(a) provide the patient with support and to help represent the interests of the patient, and
(b) receive information about the patient in accordance with this Act, and
(c) be one of the persons who must be consulted in accordance with this Act about the patient’s treatment, and
(d) assist the patient to exercise any right that the patient has under this Act.

Part 3, Division 4
Treatment criteriaStatement of rights

A statement of rights is a document in an approved form that:

(a) sets out a person’s rights under this Act while being assessed or receiving treatment in relation to his or her mental illness, and
(b) contains information as to the process by which the person will be assessed or receive treatment.

Part 3, Division 1
Treatment criteriaMental Health Complaints Commissioner

The Mental Health Complaints Commissioner will accept, assess, manage, investigate and endeavour to resolve complaints about public mental health service providers.

Part 10 Complaints, Division 1
Treatment criteriaPatient

A patient is:

(a) a compulsory patient
(b) a security patient, or
(c) a forensic patient.

s. 2


Mental Health Tribunal

The Act establishes the Mental Health Tribunal, replacing the Mental Health Review Board. The new tribunal continues to play the role of independent decision-maker, but differs from the former board in the powers it holds.

Two of the main changes are that:

  • approval must be sought from the tribunal before administering electroconvulsive treatment, except if there is informed consent, and
  • only the tribunal can make a treatment order – the former board reviewed and confirmed rather than made the orders.