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Orders made by the Mental Health Tribunal

Information about community treatment orders and inpatient treatment orders

What is the Mental Health Tribunal?

The Mental Health Tribunal (MHT) is a independent tribunal that specialises in mental health issues. It makes decisions about compulsory treatment orders and orders about electro convulsive treatment. The tribunal is made up of 3 panel members who have experience in law, psychiatry, medicine, and a community representative who has a special interest or experience in mental illness.

See Chapter 7, s. 332—Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 (Vic)(opens in a new window) and Electro convulsive treatment (ECT) and neurosurgery

Treatment orders made by the Mental Health Tribunal

These orders can only be made by the Mental Health Tribunal after a hearing, and only if the person meets all of the treatment criteria (as set out in section 143), namely:

  • the person has a mental illness
  • because the person has a mental illness, the person needs immediate treatment to prevent:
  • serious deterioration in the person's mental or physical health, or
  • serious harm to the person or to another person
  • the immediate treatment will be provided to the person if the person is subject to a temporary treatment order (or treatment order – where considered by the Mental Health Tribunal), and
  • there is no less restrictive means reasonably available to enable the person to receive the immediate treatment.

The tribunal can make or revoke a treatment order.

See section 192 Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 (Vic)

When a hearing is held

The tribunal will hold a hearing if:

  • the person applies to have their treatment order revoked, under s 206 (which can be done at any time, by their filling in an application form and sending it to the tribunal), or someone applies on their behalf, or
  • the authorised psychiatrist applies for a treatment order under s 190 because they believe the person continues to meet the criteria and have considered the relevant factors and:
    • the person’s temporary treatment order is about to expire (28 days) (s 191)
    • the treatment order was varied from community to inpatient order (within 28 days) (s 200), or
    • the person’s current treatment order (if one previously made by the Tribunal) is about to expire.

The authorised psychiatrist must apply to the Tribunal at least 10 business days before the expiry of the relevant treatment order. If an application is made under s 190, the Tribunal must hold the hearing.

See section 190 Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 (Vic)

Considerations for making a treatment order

The considerations reflect those that the authorised psychiatrist must have regard to when making a temporary treatment order and include:

  • the person’s views and preferences and those of others supporting or responsible for them, and
  • whether the person meets treatment criteria.

Likewise, if an inpatient order is being considered, the tribunal must be satisfied that treatment cannot be given in the community.

The tribunal must have regard to the decision making principles for treatment and intervention set out in Part 3.1 of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 (Vic). Those principles include the:

  • Care and transition to less restrictive support principle (s. 79)
  • Consequences of compulsory assessment and treatment and restrictive interventions principle (s.80)
  • No therapeutic benefit to restrictive interventions principle (s. 81)
  • Balancing of harm principle (s. 82)
  • Autonomy principle (s. 83)

See sections 79 to 83 and Chapters 3 and 4 —Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 (Vic).

Types of treatment orders

A treatment order is an order that enables a person subject to it to be compulsorily:

  • treated in the community (community treatment order (s 194(1)(a), or
  • taken to, and detained and treated in, a designated mental health service (inpatient treatment order (s 194(1)(b)).

Duration of the treatment order

The tribunal will decide the duration of the order, but there are limits. If the person is under 18, both types of orders can only be made to last for a maximum of three months.

For people over 18 years, a community treatment order or an inpatient treatment order can be made for a maximum of 6 months.

Note: Under s 205, if a person no longer meets all four criteria, at any time, the authorised psychiatrist must revoke the order. The person can ask the authorised psychiatrist to assess them for this reason.

See section 193 Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 (Vic)

Variation of treatment order

An authorised psychiatrist can vary a treatment order, from an inpatient to community-based treatment order, and vice versa. If the variation is to an inpatient order, the authorised psychiatrist must be satisfied that treatment cannot be given in the community (s 200(2)).

The authorised psychiatrist must notify the tribunal of the variation, and provide a copy, and take reasonable steps to notify the person subject to the order of the variation, its purpose and effects and provide a copy of the varied order and relevant statement of rights. They must also have informed the nominated support person, or other person referred to in s 203.

See sections 200 to 203 Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 (Vic)

If the person disagrees with the tribunal’s decision

If the tribunal makes a decision the person disagrees with, they can:

  • apply for a revocation of the treatment order
  • ask for (in writing) a statement of reasons for decision, and/or
  • apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for a review of the decision.

A person has 20 business days after the decision to request a statement of reasons (s 380). They also have 20 business days from the decision, or from receiving the statement of reasons, to apply to VCAT for a review (s 383). Part of the process of review may be for the person to request a second psychiatric opinion, which the authorised psychiatrist must consider.

See sections 380 and 383 Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 (Vic)

Leave on an assessment or treatment order

Section 212 provides for an inpatient to be granted a leave of absence from the mental health service for the purpose of receiving treatment or medical treatment, or for any other purpose the authorised psychiatrist is satisfied is appropriate.

The psychiatrist will have to consider why the person wants to have leave and they will have to satisfy themselves that the leave will not put the safety of any person at risk. The psychiatrist will have to consider the views of the person and must take into account any advance statement that they have made. The views of any nominated person, guardian or carer must also be considered.

The leave may be subject to conditions if the psychiatrist believes that this is necessary.

See section 212-Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 (Vic).

Responsibility for treatment

The authorised psychiatrist is responsible for providing treatment during the period of the treatment order. The psychiatrist is also able to vary the setting where treatment is provided, that is from inpatient to treatment in the community (CTO) or from CTO to inpatient.

See sections 200 to 204 —Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Applying for another treatment order

Before the expiry of the treatment order, the authorised psychiatrist may make an application for a further treatment order if the criteria for compulsory treatment still apply. This application must be heard by the MHT while there is a current treatment order in place. If this is not done, the treatment order will expire.

See section 190—Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

More information

Legislation

Mental Health Act 2014 (Vic)

  • s. 143—compulsory treatment criteria
  • s. 195—what does a treatment order authorise?
  • s. 192—Mental Health Tribunal may make treatment order
  • s. 190—authorised psychiatrist may apply for a treatment order
  • s. 196—contents of a treatment order
  • s. 193—how long a treatment order lasts
  • ss. 205-211—revoking a treatment order or temporary treatment order
  • s. 209—revocation of a treatment orderin other circumstances
  • s. 212—grant of leave of absence
  • Chapter 7—Mental Health tribunal

See Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Related pages

Updated