The Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 commenced on September 1, 2023. The Law Handbook is updated annually, with the next update due in early 2024. In the meantime, for up-to-date information on the new Act, please visit the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 Handbook on the Department of Health’s website.


Lucy Carter

Lawyer, Mental Health Legal Centre

Voluntary patients

Admitting voluntary patients

Anyone can seek admission to a hospital for psychiatric treatment.

A person admitting themselves to hospital will be classified as a voluntary patient.

A voluntary patient can only be given treatment if they agree to it. Private hospitals can only treat voluntary patients.

Leaving an institution

A voluntary patient may leave a hospital at any time or can be discharged by the authorised psychiatrist.

However, if staff believe that a voluntary patient who wants to leave meets the criteria for compulsory treatment and detention as an involuntary patient, the patient may be detained under the provisions of involuntary admission.

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Disability, mental illness and the law