Improving Recovery Journeys
Mental health consumers have pushed for formal recognition of Advance Statements for many years. In 2014 Victoria became the first state to legally recognise Advance Statements.
The Mental Health Legal Centre (MHLC) maintains a strong position that each consumer knows best about the lived experience of their ‘illness’ and that decisions made by others on their behalf will never adequately substitute for the decisions people make for themselves about their own lives. Self-determination is crucial to anybody’s ongoing wellbeing.
Advance Statements help consumers to have a greater say in how they are treated when receiving compulsory treatment. This includes information about what treatments have been effective in the past and those that have been less effective or have had unwelcome side effects. It can also include views on receiving Electro Convulsive Treatment.
An Advance Statement can be made at any time and must meet some basic formal requirements. It needs to be in writing, signed and dated by the person making the statement and witnessed by an authorised witness. The authorised witness must confirm that the person making it understands what an Advance Statement is and the consequences of making one.
Advance Statements are recognised under Victoria’s Mental Health legislation (Mental Health Act 2014) and must be considered by treating teams when they are making decisions about treatment and also by the Mental Health Tribunal when deciding whether to make an order for compulsory treatment.
Sometimes treating teams will not follow your Advance Statement, if they do not offer the treatment requested or do not think it will work. If this happens consumers can ask for written reasons, these reasons must be given within 10 days.
While it is only treatment preferences that must be considered under the Mental Health Act, consumers often also record other personal information that they want their treating team to know. This might include things like information about family and home life, needing access to art supplies or music while in hospital or what will happen to pets.
We can help
A lawyer from the Mental Health Legal Centre can help to make an Advance Statement. We work with consumers to understand what treatment is want and to ensure that this is expressed clearly in their Advance Statements.
Please contact us on (03) 9629 4422 to make an appointment with our Advance Statements team.
See our Information Booklet for further information: Advance Statement Information Booklet
Preliminary Finding Report (March 2018)
In 2017 the MHLC partnered with RMIT University to explore consumer’s experience of using Advance Statements. They found that people completed their Advance Statements for two main reasons; to authorise future treatment or to limit the power of their treating team, and those who had used, or tried to use, their Advance Statement reported a lack of acceptance or inclusion from clinicians. Read the preliminary findings from that study here:
Advance Statement Project Review – 2018
The following report is an evaluation of the MHLC’s Advance Statement Project as funded by the Helen McPherson Smith Trust and the R.E. Ross Trust. This evaluation assesses the key achievements of the project: Advance Statement Project Review.