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

Mental Health Tribunal

Last updated

1 July 2021

What is the Mental Health Tribunal?

The Mental Health Tribunal (MHT) was established by the Mental Health Act 2014 (Vic) (‘MHA 2014’). The MHT is a statutory body that is independent from the mental health services. Its primary role is to decide whether a person requires compulsory mental health treatment.

The MHT must interpret all statutory provisions consistently with the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) (‘Charter’), so far as that is possible and consistent with its purpose.

The MHT is considered to be a public authority under the Charter (except when acting in an administrative capacity). As a public authority, the MHT must act compatibly with Charter rights, unless it could not have acted otherwise.

What matters does the Mental Health Tribunal hear?

The MHT also conducts hearings in relation to:

  • whether electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) should be given;
  • security patients;
  • the transfer of a person’s treatment to another health service;
  • applications to perform neurosurgery for mental illness.

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Disability, mental illness and the law