Dr Neil Coventry is the Chief Psychiatrist of Victoria.
The Chief Psychiatrist is an independent statutory officer. They hold powers and responsibilities prescribed by the to uphold the quality and safety of clinical services in Victoria’s mental health and wellbeing system.
This applies to:
- designated mental health and wellbeing services
- mental health and wellbeing services in custodial settings
- specific mental health and wellbeing services in the community.
As part of their oversight and leadership role, the Chief Psychiatrist:
- monitors clinical service providers to ensure compliance with the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022
- investigates incidents when the safety or wellbeing of a person was endangered while receiving a mental health and wellbeing service
- reviews and audits service provision to find and resolve quality and safety issues
- publishes guidelines on clinical best practice and supports services to embed them
- promotes the rights of people receiving a mental health and wellbeing service.
Services must report the following clinical practices and incidents to the Chief Psychiatrist:
- the use of electroconvulsive treatment
- restrictive interventions (seclusion, bodily restraint and chemical restraint)
- reportable deaths within the meaning of the Coroners Act 2008
- sexual safety incidents
- breaches of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022.
The Chief Psychiatrist uses this information to analyse state-wide trends and improve clinical practice across Victoria’s mental health and wellbeing system.
The Chief Psychiatrist conducts investigations if a person’s health, safety or wellbeing was endangered while receiving treatment and care.
The Chief Psychiatrist reports their findings to the service provider and assists them to comply with relevant standards, guidelines, codes of practice and law.
Clinical reviews and practice audits
The Chief Psychiatrist also intervenes proactively to assist service providers with quality and safety improvements by conducting clinical reviews and practice audits. Through these evaluations, the Chief Psychiatrist identifies issues with clinical processes and advises service providers on how to resolve them.
Chief Psychiatrist’s guidelines
The Chief Psychiatrist issues on various aspects of clinical practice in mental health and wellbeing. These guidelines outline principles of best practice and contain practical information for mental health practitioners on how to deliver safe and high-quality treatment and care.
Rights of consumers and carers
The Chief Psychiatrist supports clinical mental health and wellbeing services to meet their obligations around the rights of consumers.
These obligations include:
- providing treatment in the possible
- supporting consumers to make decisions about their assessment, treatment and recovery
- responding to the individual, cultural and medical needs of consumers
- including carers, family members and supporters in decision making.
Royal Commission reforms
The Office of the Chief Psychiatrist partners with other teams and offices in the Victorian public service to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.
Reviewed 15 September 2023