We are committed to supporting people living with a mental illness or mental disorder. We are also committed to working with their family, friends, carers and service providers to provide a high standard of professional treatment and care. This includes outlining specific rights, roles and responsibilities under the new Mental Health Act 2015 (the Act).
The Act sets out the legal responsibilities of professionals, such as doctors, mental health workers, ambulance and police officers.
The Act came into effect on 1 March 2016 and is designed to give people in the ACT who are living with a mental illness a better opportunity to make important decisions on their treatment, care and support. It brings ACT’s mental health legislation in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with a Disability and the ACT Human Rights Act.
The Mental Health Act 2015 is available on the ACT Legislation website www.legislation.act.gov.au
A person with a mental illness or disorder must always have the opportunity to make or contribute to decisions about their treatment, care or support. This should be done to the best of their ability and include involvement from their carers, close family and friends. This is in line with the principles of recovery and least restrictive care outlined in Chapter 2, section 5 of the Act.
The Act creates a legal environment that supports this decision-making ability, allowing people to make a decision with or without assistance. It considers whether they understand:
- when a decision about treatment, care or support needs to be made
- the facts and choices related to that decision
- the consequences of their choices.
Advance consent directions and advance agreements
Advance consent directions and advance agreements are legally recognised documents. They outline a person’s preferences and provide consent regarding future mental health treatment, care or support. They are used in the event that a person’s ability to participate in decisions about their treatment and support is significantly impaired.
An advance consent direction includes the main decisions about a person’s treatment, while an advance agreement includes a person’s decisions about ‘everyday’ matters, including who will look after their house/pets.
Ability to appoint a nominated person
A person with a mental illness or disorder who is able to make their own decisions can name someone as their nominated person. This must be done in writing to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
The nominated person can be contacted by clinicians for information about appropriate treatment, care or support for the person with a mental illness or disorder.
Forensic Mental Health Orders
People with a mental illness or disorder who are, or have previously been, in the correctional system may have a Forensic Mental Health Order.
These orders are only made when a person is a serious danger to public safety. Under a Forensic Mental Health Order, a person’s ability to make decisions is removed.
If you have any further questions on the Mental Health Act 2015, contact:
(02) 5124 6137
Further information and resources