The Mental Health Legal Centre provides Mental Health Tribunal representations. The MHLC believes that everyone has a right to legal representation and should be empowered and supported throughout the process. We aim to address the alarmingly low level of legal representation for people subject to enforced psychiatric treatment, at hearings where significant decisions are being made about one’s liberties.
If you have a Mental Health Tribunal Hearing coming up and know the date of the hearing you can call our office number (03) 9629 4422 to arrange representation. If you cannot get through or if you have called outside of phone hours, please leave a message with your name, hearing date and contact number, and we will return your call.
The intake team will take down your details and you will be placed on our list for representation. You will be notified when a lawyer is confirmed to represent you.
Ideally we require at least 2 weeks’ notice, however we will endeavour to accommodate shorter timeframes as best we can. Please contact us for urgent Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) hearings.
We will notify you as soon as possible. We will then inform the health service that we are representing you and request your report, which should be provided to you at least 48hrs before your hearing. Ask your health service for a copy if you have not received one. The lawyer will be in contact with you to take your instructions and prepare for the hearing.
We will inform you if we have not found representation for your hearing. Unfortunately this can happen due to capacity or due to priority hearings on the same day.
In this case, we will contact you to see if you would like to receive legal advice prior to your hearing.
Victoria Legal Aid’s ‘Going to a Mental Health Tribunal hearing’ booklet is also a useful resource when self-representing.
You can request to adjourn your hearing by contacting the Mental Health Tribunal directly on (03) 9032 3200. Generally, an adjournment will be granted if it does not take the rescheduled hearing date beyond the expiry date of the current order.
If the outcome of your hearing is not favourable, you can request another hearing at any time by contacting the Mental Health Tribunal. A hearing should be set within 10 business days. Please inform us when you receive the new hearing date and we will try to arrange representation again.
You can contact the Mental Health Tribunal to check your hearing date and time. You will also need to contact them to request adjournments and new hearings.
Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA)
Phone: 1300 947 820
Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) can assist those who are on a compulsory treatment order. Their independent advocates can support you to speak up about your treatment preferences, provide you with information about your rights, and advocate for what you want.
Second Opinion Psychiatric Service
Phone: 1300 503 426
You can request a second opinion from the Second Opinion Psychiatric Service, who can provide a second opinion in relation to the treatment provided to you. It does not offer second opinions on diagnosis.
You can also ask for an assessment from another psychiatrist at your treating mental health service or from a private psychiatrist.
Mental Health Complaints Commissioner (MHCC)
Phone: 1800 246 054
You have a right to make a complaint to the Mental Health Complaints Commissioner (MHCC) about your experience with the public mental health system. The MHCC is an independent body established under the Mental Health Act 2014.
You can also contact AHPRA to submit a concern about a particular practitioner, if you believe their behaviour is placing the public at risk or if they are practicing in an unsafe way.