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

Interstate application of mental health laws

Last updated

1 July 2021

Interstate application of mental health provisions is dealt with in Part 13 of the Mental Health Act 2014 (Vic) (‘MHA 2014’).

The Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and South Australia have passed laws corresponding to those of Victoria regarding the interstate application of each state’s mental health laws.

These laws deal with:

  • transfer of involuntary patients interstate: a transfer can only take place after being reviewed by the Mental Health Tribunal (MHT) and only if the MHT considers the transfer to be of benefit to the patient or necessary for their treatment;
  • interstate community treatment orders (CTOs): people on a CTO from Victoria can continue to receive treatment from a designated mental health service in New South Wales and South Australia. Reciprocal arrangements apply to people on a CTO from New South Wales or South Australia; and
  • apprehension of involuntary patients absent without leave: if an involuntary patient leaves Victoria for the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales or South Australia without continuing treatment, they can be apprehended and either hospitalised in that state or returned to Victoria. Reciprocal arrangements occur for involuntary patients from the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and South Australia.

Victoria also has agreements with the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales covering the apprehension and return of forensic and security patients. For more information, see the website of the Department of Health (Vic).

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