Department of Health

A new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act for Victoria

Victoria’s new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 passed the Victorian parliament in September 2022.

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System recommended the Victorian Government repeal the Mental Health Act 2014 and enact a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act.

The new Act

  • promotes good mental health and wellbeing for all Victorians
  • resets the legislative foundations for the mental health and wellbeing system
  • supports the delivery of services that are responsive to the needs and preferences of Victorians
  • establishes new roles and entities recommended by the Royal Commission
  • puts the views, preferences and values of people living with mental illness or psychological distress, families, carers and supporters at the forefront of service design and delivery.

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 supports the establishment of new roles and entities recommended by the Royal Commission. This includes a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, Regional Mental Health and Wellbeing Boards, Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing Victoria and a new Chief Officer for Mental Health and Wellbeing..

The legislation contains new rights-based objectives and principles to drive the highest possible standard of mental health and wellbeing for Victorians.

The Department of Health has developed information sheets to explain how the new Act intersects with other key mental health and wellbeing reforms. The information sheets are available on the Engage Victoria website.

Implementing the new Act

The new legislation is due to commence approximately one year after parliament passes the Bill. This provides time for the mental health sector to prepare for the changes in the new Act.

Education and support will be provided for consumers, families, carers and supporters to understand their rights under the new legislation. Training will be provided for the mental health and wellbeing sector on the requirements of the new legislation. 

There will also be embedded expert practitioners in each Area Mental Health Service and central implementation support.

Public engagement

The Victorian Government introduced the Mental Health and Wellbeing Bill to the Victorian Parliament in June 2022. The Department of Health held engagement activities with the mental health sector and community between June and August 2021 to help develop the Bill.

Information about the development of the Bill and an overview of its proposed content were published in a paper on the  Engage Victoria website

In December 2021, the department released the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act: What We Heard report. The report provides an overview of feedback to the policy proposals outlined in the engagement paper.

Feedback was received from consumers, families, carers, supporters, workers, academics, peak bodies, unions, legal services and providers of mental health and wellbeing services. Overall, responses were positive about the need to make changes to the legislation for mental health and wellbeing in Victoria.

Independent review

During consultation on the new legislation, it became clear that people had very different views about the criteria for compulsory treatment and that this important issue required further consultation and consideration.

The department also heard that the alignment of mental health laws with other decision-making laws should occur sooner than recommended by the Royal Commission. 

An Independent Review into compulsory treatment criteria and the alignment of mental health laws with other decision-making laws started in October 2022. The Independent Review, led by Justice Shane Marshall AM is expected to be completed in late 2023.

Read more about the Independent Review and Terms of Reference.

Reviewed 15 December 2022

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