New law and terminology defines mental illness in Victoria with significant changes to the legal framework that assesses and treats people with a mental illness. The Mental Health Tribunal is the independent statutory tribunal providing the safeguard for the making of compulsory treatment orders. The new law seeks to minimise compulsory mental health treatment and ensure that people with a mental illness are supported to make or participate in decisions about their assessment, treatment and recovery.


Lucy Carter

Lawyer, Mental Health Legal Centre

Forensic patients

Last updated

1 July 2021

Who are forensic patients?

Forensic patients are people who are either:

  • subject to supervision orders (supervision orders last for an indefinite time, and can be custodial or non-custodial);
  • on remand under the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997 (Vic) (‘CMIUT Act’); 
  • ordered under the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) (‘Crimes Act (Cth)’) to be detained in safe custody in prison or in a hospital for a specified period (‘Commonwealth forensic patients’).

Fitness to stand trial and acquittal

The CMIUT Act deals with the procedures at a criminal trial in the Supreme Court or the County Court where the accused’s fitness to stand trial is in question, or where the defence of not guilty on the grounds of mental impairment is raised.

Whereas, Division 7 of Part 1B of the Crimes Act (Cth) deals with acquittal because of mental illness. 


Part 12 of the Mental Health Act 2014 (Vic) deals with forensic patients and the criteria and process around being taken to another designated mental health service and applying to the Mental Health Tribunal for review of such a decision. (See Chapter 8.3: Disability and criminal justice.)

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