The Act supports changes underway to create a diverse, responsive and compassionate mental health and wellbeing system for all Victorians.
The Act is a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.
It replaces the Mental Health Act 2014 and sets the foundations for the reformed mental health and wellbeing system envisioned by the Royal Commission.
The Act includes a Statement of Recognition of Aboriginal people and acknowledgement of the Treaty process. The Statement enshrines commitments to Aboriginal self-determination in Victorian Government health statutes for the first time.
A focus on good mental health and wellbeing
The Act promotes good mental health and wellbeing.
It has a range of objectives that aim to achieve the highest possible standard of mental health and wellbeing for all Victorians.
The Act’s strengthened principles promote and better protect human rights. The principles reflect the values of our community and provide the basis for compassionate treatment, care and support.
The principles require mental health and wellbeing service providers to:
- support the dignity and autonomy of people living with mental illness or psychological distress
- ensure people are involved in decisions about their treatment, care and support
- recognise the role of families, carers and supporters
- ensure the service system responds to the diverse needs and preferences of Victorians.
The principles apply to all mental health wellbeing service providers.
The central role of people with lived and living experience
The Act places people with lived experience – consumers and their families, carers and supporters – at the centre of the mental health and wellbeing system.
The Act includes a lived experience principle that recognises the importance and value of the contribution of people with lived experience as leaders and partners in the mental health and wellbeing system.
The Act supports the inclusion of people with lived and living experience in senior leadership roles across the system.
A broader mental health and wellbeing system
The Act reflects a more inclusive mental health and wellbeing system with its focus on early intervention and community-based services. This means a range of organisations, including all providers funded by the Victorian Government to deliver mental health and wellbeing treatment, care and support are brought within the scope of the Act.
This means community mental health and wellbeing service providers are central partners, working with clinical mental health services to help deliver an integrated lived experience led, comprehensive and effective system for Victorians experiencing mental illness or psychological distress.
They will also work in partnership with other providers throughout the network of Mental Health and Wellbeing Locals (Local Services) being established across Victoria.
Mental Health Victoria has developed education and training resources for the broader community mental and wellbeing health sector.
Supported decision making
The Act’s supported decision making principles aim to ensure people are supported to make their own decisions about their treatment, care and support.
The Act has measures to promote and assist communication between practitioners and people with mental illness and their families, carers and supporters. These measures support people receiving mental health and wellbeing services to understand information and participate in decision making.
The Act includes specific mechanisms for supported decision making including advance statements of preferences, nominated support persons and a legislated opt out model of non-legal mental health advocacy for people receiving compulsory mental health services.
Victoria Legal Aid’s Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) is the provider of non-legal mental health advocacy services.
Safeguards and protection of rights
The Act includes a range of safeguards to protect the rights and dignity of people living with mental illness or psychological distress.
The mental health and wellbeing principles of the Act include a dignity and autonomy principle.
This principle says the rights, dignity and autonomy of a person living with mental illness or psychological distress are to be promoted and protected and the person is to be supported to exercise those rights. The Act also allocates specific roles in safeguarding the rights of people receiving mental health and wellbeing services. These include:
- the Mental Health Tribunal
- community visitors
- the complaints handling and investigation functions of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission.
New roles and entities in the system
The Act establishes new roles and entities to strengthen system governance and oversight. These include the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing Victoria and Regional Mental Health and Wellbeing Boards.
The Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission is an independent statutory authority. It will play a key role in system-wide oversight of quality and safety.
The new Commission commenced on 1 September 2023 and will incorporate the existing complaints function of the Mental Health Complaints Commissioner.
The jurisdiction of the Commission extends to all mental health and wellbeing service providers.
What's different in the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act?
The Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 builds on the Mental Health Act 2014.
Mental Health and Wellbeing Act video series
Our quick guide video series responds to questions about key changes in the Act.
Reviewed 19 September 2023