IMHA - Know Your Rights (Auslan)

Title: IMHA Know Your Rights (Auslan)

Producer: Independent Mental Health Advocacy

Name of speaker: Auslan Consultancy

Speech Content:

This video explains your rights if you are receiving compulsory treatment under the “Mental Health and Wellbeing Act”. Rights are rules to protect you under the law. Receiving compulsory treatment means you must have treatment, even if you don’t want it. Even if you are receiving compulsory treatment, there are rules about how this works. Now, let’s talk about what your rights are when receiving compulsory treatment. 

You have the right to information. You must:

  • Be told why you are on a treatment order and given a copy of the order. You can ask to speak with your psychiatrist about this.
  • be given information about your assessment, proposed treatment, and alternative treatments.
  • Be given information about your rights, including a statement of rights. This is a document that explains your rights.

Information can be in writing in English or your preferred language. You have the right to request an interpreter if you need one.

You have the right to communication that meets your needs.

Communication must be:

  • In your preferred language
  • In an appropriate physical or sensory environment.

Your mental health service should provide appropriate spaces for you to communicate with:

  • family members
  • kin
  • carers
  • supporters, or
  • advocates.

You have the right to the least restrictive treatment possible. This means:

  • compulsory treatment should be given to you in a way that gives you as much choice and freedom and possible.
  • You shouldn’t be given compulsory treatment if the possible harm from it is likely to be more than the harm it’s intended to prevent.
  • You may only be kept in hospital for treatment when you can’t be treated in the community.
  • If you’re in hospital, you have the right to ask for time away hospital. This is often called a ‘leave of absence’.

Do I have a say in decisions about my treatment? Yes. The Act states that you should be supported to make or participate in decisions about your assessment, treatment and recovery. This means your treating team must:

  • seek your informed consent – seek your informed consent for all treatments where you have capacity
  • Give you enough time to make decisions
  • Give you an opportunity to discuss your treatment options
  • Give you support to get other advice or assistance
  • Provide appropriate support for you to make and participate in decisions
  • support your decisions even if they involve risk. Risks are a normal part of everyday life, and you should be supported to take positive and thought-out risks.

You have the right to feel safe and respected. This means you should have individual needs recognised and responded to. This includes:

  • your gender identity, sexual orientation, sex, ethnicity, language, race, religion (faith or spirituality), class, socioeconomic status, age disability, neurodiversity, culture, residency status and geographic disadvantage.
  • your medical and other health needs 

Treatment and support should be given to you in a way that respects your dignity, autonomy and rights. Your recovery and full participation in community life should be supported.

If you do not agree with your compulsory treatment order, you can appeal it at the Mental Health Tribunal any time. To do this, you can ask the mental health service for a Mental Health Tribunal application form or contact the Tribunal on 1800 242 703 for assistance. 

You have the right to ask for legal advice. You can contact:

  • Victoria Legal Aid on 1300 792 387 
  • the Mental Health Legal Centre on 9629 4422, or 
  • the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service on 9418 5999

Do I have the right to complain? Yes. Under the law you can make a complaint about a public mental health service.  You can make a complaint directly to the service or to the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission (MHWC) on 1800 246 054.

If you feel like a mental health practitioner, such as a psychiatrist or nurse, has done something wrong, broken the law, or put your safety at risk, you can contact the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency on 1300 419 495.

How do I tell my treating team what I want?

Making an advance statement of preferences is one way that you can tell the treating team what you want as part of your treatment.

An advance statement of preferences is a document you can make that explains what you want to happen if you receive compulsory treatment.

You can use the Advance Statement of Preferences form available at health.vic

It can include things like:

  • what kind of treatment, care and support you want or do not want
  • what helps you to communicate and understand information.  For example, written information, hearing aids, reading glasses or if you need an interpreter.
  • If you want the mental health service to share information with particular people or not

If your psychiatrist does not follow what is in your advance statement of preferences, they must tell you why, and give these reasons to you in writing within 10 business days.

Who can help me tell my treating team what I want?

A nominated support person is somebody you choose to receive information and support you while you are receiving treatment as a compulsory patient.You can use the Nominated Support Person form available at health.vic

Your nominated support person must advocate for what you say you want, not what they want. They can help you to express your views and exercise your rights. The mental health service must take all reasonable steps to support your nominated support person to do their role.

How can I get a second opinion about my treatment? You have the right to get a second opinion from any psychiatrist, including from

  • the mental health and wellbeing service where you are receiving treatment or 
  • the free and independent Second Psychiatric Opinion Service.

If your psychiatrist does not take on all changes in a second psychiatric opinion report they must tell you why and give these reasons to you in writing within 10 business days.

I would like help to speak up about what I need and want. You have the right to support from a non-legal advocate. 

Independent Mental Health Advocacy will be told if you are receiving compulsory treatment and we will contact you unless you have told us not to.

When we contact you, we will explain what we do, and you can decide if you want our support. 

If you don’t want us to contact you, you can

I would like help to speak up about what I need and want. You can get in contact with IMHA, we're here to help.  We can also help if you are not on an Order but are worried you may be placed on one.

  • You can visit our website at
  • You can contact us via email at
  • You can use the National Relay Service to contact us by our phone line on 1300 947 820, 7 days a week from 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. 
  • To use the National Relay Service, you can visit their website at
  • Or you can call and listen to an audio recording of your rights on 1800 959 353 at any time.

You can ask your service, carer, or support person to help you contact us. 

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