Department of Health

Key messages

  • It is important to engage consumers and carers in treatment and service improvement.
  • Legislation ensures that people with a mental illness have an option to a say in their treatment, even when placed under a compulsory treatment order.

The concept of consumer and carer engagement plays a vital role in the treatment, care and recovery of people with a mental illness.

Consumers and carers who are actively encouraged to make decisions about treatment and care are more likely to value treatment programs and to achieve better recovery outcomes.

Consumer and carer engagement also complements service development and results in mental health services that are more accessible and appropriate to consumers.

Participating in treatment

Supported decision making

The principles of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 (the Act) reflect a focus on supported decision making and a right for individuals to make decisions that involve risk.

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.

Your obligations

The Act includes legal mechanisms 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 make decisions about their assessment, treatment and care.

Anyone who is required to communicate with a consumer, family member, carer, guardian, nominated support person or complainant must take reasonable steps to:

  • explain what they are communicating
  • answer questions as clearly and completely as possible
  • provide appropriate supports to help the person understand the information, make decisions and communicate their views.

Mental health professionals should be aware of their obligations under the Act to support people to communicate and participate in decisions about their treatment, care and support.

Nominated person and advance statements

The Act includes mechanisms to support people to have a say in their treatment care and support when receiving compulsory assessment and treatment —

  • A nominated support person is someone appointed by a person to support them to express their views and preferences if they become unwell and receive compulsory assessment or treatment
  • An advance statement of preferences sets out a person’s treatment, care and support preferences if they become unwell and receive compulsory assessment or treatment.

In the course of receiving services, consumers should be encouraged to consider nominating a nominated support person or making an advance statement of preferences.

Where a person who has a nominated support person or an advance statement of preferences receives compulsory assessment or treatment, the clinicians working with that person has obligations under the Act to notify and consult the nominated support person and to make reasonable efforts to give effect to an advance statement of preferences.

Participating in policy and service development

Consumer and Carer Partnership Dialogues

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.

Reviewed 21 March 2024


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