The Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 contains a number of principles to guide the provision of mental health services. Psychiatrists, doctors and staff at mental health services, as well as the Mental Health Tribunal, must consider these principles when deciding what happens to you.
Dignity and autonomy principle
The rights, dignity and autonomy of a person living with mental illness or psychological distress is to be promoted and protected and the person is to be supported to exercise those rights.
Diversity of care principle
A person living with mental illness or psychological distress is to be provided with access to a diverse mix of care and support services.
This is to be determined, as much as possible, by the needs and preferences of the person living with mental illness or psychological distress.
- this includes their accessibility requirements, relationships, living situation, any experience of trauma, level of education, financial circumstances and employment status.
Least restrictive principle
Mental health and wellbeing services are to be provided to a person living with mental illness or psychological distress:
- with the least possible restriction of their rights, dignity and autonomy, and
- with the aim of promoting their recovery and full participation in community life.
The views and preferences of the person should be key determinants of the nature of this recovery and participation.
Supported decision making principle
Supported decision making practices are to be promoted.
Persons receiving mental health and wellbeing services are to be supported to make decisions and to be involved in decisions about their assessment, treatment and recovery including when they are receiving compulsory treatment.
The views and preferences of the person receiving mental health and wellbeing services are to be given priority.
Family and carers principle
Families, carers and supporters (including children) of a person receiving mental health and wellbeing services are to be supported in their role in decisions about the person’s assessment, treatment and recovery.
Lived experience principle
The lived experience of a person with mental illness or psychological distress and their carers, families and supporters is to be recognised and valued as experience that makes them valuable leaders and active partners in the mental health and wellbeing service system.
Health needs principle
The medical and other health needs of people living with mental illness or psychological distress are to be identified and responded to.
- this includes any medical or health needs that are related to the use of alcohol or other drugs.
In doing so, the ways in which a person’s physical and mental health needs may intersect should be considered.
Dignity of risk principle
A person receiving mental health and wellbeing services has the right to take reasonable risks in order to achieve personal growth, self-esteem and overall quality of life.
Respecting this right in providing mental health and wellbeing services involves balancing the duty of care owed to all people experiencing mental illness or psychological distress with actions to afford each person the dignity of risk.
Wellbeing of young principle
The health, wellbeing and autonomy of children and young people receiving mental health and wellbeing services are to be promoted and supported.
- this includes providing treatment and support in age and developmentally appropriate settings and ways.
It is recognized that their lived experience makes them valuable leaders and active partners in the mental health and wellbeing service system.
The diverse needs and experiences of a person receiving mental health and wellbeing services are to be actively considered noting that such diversity ma be due to a variety of attributes including any of the following:
- gender identity
- sexual orientation
- religion, faith or spirituality
- socioeconomic status
- residency status
- geographic disadvantage.
Mental health and wellbeing services are to be provided in a manner that:
- is safe, sensitive and responsive to the diverse abilities, needs and experiences of the person including any experience of trauma; and
- considers how those needs and experiences intersect with each other and with the person’s mental health.
Gender safety principle
People receiving mental health and wellbeing services may have specific safety needs or concerns based on their gender. Consideration is therefore to ne given to these needs and concerns and access is to be provided to services that:
- are safe
- are responsive to any current experience of family violence and trauma or any history of family violence and trauma
- recognise and respond to the ways gender dynamics may affect service delivery, treatment and recovery
- recognize and respond to the ways in which gender intersects with other types of discrimination and disadvantage.
Cultural safety principle
Mental health and wellbeing services are to culturally safe and responsive to people of all racial, ethnic, faith-based and cultural backgrounds.
Treatment and care is to be appropriate for, and consistent with, the cultural and spiritual beliefs and practices of a person living with mental illness or psychological distress.
- regard is to be given to the views of the person’s family and, to the extent that it is practicable and appropriate to do so, the views of significant members of the person’s community.
- regard is to be given to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s unique culture and identity, including connections to family and kinship, community, Country and waters.
Treatment and care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is, to the extent that it is practicable and appropriate to do so, to be decided and given having regard to the views of leaders, traditional healers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health workers,
Wellbeing of dependents principle
The needs, wellbeing and safety of children, young people and other dependents of people receiving mental health and wellbeing services are to protected.
How an advocate can support you
If you are receiving compulsory treatment, you may feel you need help to understand and act on your rights in the mental health system.
Our independent advocates can:
- listen to what you want and talk to you about your options
- give you information and support to act on your rights
- work with you so you can have your say
- refer you to other services if needed.
We do not provide legal representation or specific advice about how the law applies in your particular situation. If you require legal help, ask your advocate to put you in touch with Victoria Legal Aid.
Reviewed 25 August 2023