ACT Health is committed to supporting people living with a mental illness or mental disorder. We are also committed to working with their family, friends and carers, as well as service providers in the provision of high standard and professional treatment and care. This includes outlining specific rights, roles and responsibilities under the new Act.
The Mental Health Act 2015 (the Act) gives people in the ACT who are living with a mental illness a better opportunity to make important decisions on their treatment, care and support.
The Act came into effect on 1 March 2016 and allows people to self-manage and optimise their recovery, bringing the ACT’s mental health legislation in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with a Disability and the ACT Human Rights Act.
The Mental Health Act 2015 is available on the ACT Legislation website www.legislation.act.gov.au
A person with a mental illness or disorder must always have the opportunity to make or contribute to decisions about their treatment, care or support. This should be done to the best of their ability and include involvement from their carers, close family and friends. This is in line with the principles of recovery and least restrictive care.
The Act creates a legal environment that supports this decision-making ability, allowing people to make a decision with or without assistance, and considers whether they understand:
- when a decision about treatment, care or support needs to be made
- the facts and choices related to that decision
- the consequences of their choices
Legally recognise Advance Consent Directions (ACD) and Advance Agreements (AA)
ACD and AA have full legal recognition and apply to people who must agree to decisions in writing because they do not have ability to make them on their own. An application must be made to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal if any changes need to be made.
An ACD includes the main decisions about a person’s treatment, and an AA includes a person’s decisions about ‘everyday’ matters, including who will look after my house/pets.
Ability to appoint a Nominated Person
A person with a mental illness or disorder who is able to make their own decisions can name someone as their nominated person. This must be done in writing to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
The nominated person can be contacted by clinicians for information about appropriate treatment, care or support for the person with a mental illness or disorder.
Forensic Mental Health Orders
People with a mental illness or disorder who are, or have previously been, in the correctional system need a Forensic Mental Health Order (FMHO).
These orders are only made when a person is a serious danger to public safety. Under a FMHO, a person’s ability to make decisions is removed.
If you have any further questions on the Mental Health Act 2015, contact the Consumer Engagement Feedback Team on:
Further information and resources