Mental Health

VCAT can review decisions made by the Mental Health Tribunal under the Mental Health Act 2014. We hear and decide these cases in our Human Rights List.

The Mental Health Act 2014 establishes procedures for assessing people who appear to have mental illness and treating people who have mental illness. It also established the Mental Health Tribunal which has the primary function of determining whether all the criteria for mental health treatment in the Act applies to a person. If the criteria do apply, the Mental Health Tribunal may make a treatment order. The Mental Health Tribunal may make an order for a person to receive electroconvulsive treatment if it is satisfied that the person does not have the capacity to consent to the treatment or they are under the age of 18 years.

VCAT can hear and determine applications to review these decisions by the Mental Health Tribunal.

The Act contains mental health principles that emphasise the provision of assessment and treatment in the least restrictive way possible, with voluntary assessment and treatment preferred. The rights, dignity and autonomy of the person receiving mental health treatment are emphasised by the Act.

Cases VCAT can hear

VCAT can hear and decide applictions for reviews of decisions made by the Mental Health Tribunal,

  • To start a case at VCAT fill in the application form. Any person who was a party in the Mental Health Tribunal hearing can apply to VCAT to review the tribunal's decision. There is no fee for this type of application. Learn more about how to apply to start a case.

  • A VCAT member reviews your application and decides how it should proceed. We advise the Mental Health Tribunal we have received your application. Within 28 days of receiving this advice from us, the Mental Health Tribunal must provide us a statement of reasons for the decision. This is sometimes called a Section 49 statement. They must also supply any other documents they consider relevant to a review of the decision. In most cases the VCAT member will make the initial orders in chambers, which means the parties do not have to attend at this time. Learn more about the initial orders we may make. Sometimes VCAT or a party in the case may request a directions hearing, for example if there has been a failure to comply with an order. Learn more about what happens when VCAT opens a case.

  • Many cases at VCAT are decided at a final hearing. Prepare early so you can present the best possible case. Make sure you give others enough time to assist you to prepare and appear as witnesses at a hearing. For information to help you prepare for the hearing, see how to prepare for your final hearing. For information about our accessibility services and other support services, see customer support at VCAT.

  • It is your responsibility to attend the hearing. The hearing gives all parties a chance to give and hear evidence, ask questions, call witnesses and provide supporting documents. Learn about what happens on final hearing day.

  • The VCAT member generally gives their decision and makes an order at the end of the hearing. Learn about the types of orders we can make. The VCAT member may give reasons for the decision verbally or in writing. If you want the reasons in writing, make the request within 14 days of the hearing date. Read more about what to expect after the final hearing.

Professional representation

Many people choose to represent themselves at VCAT. You do not need to be represented by a lawyer or a professional representative. Usually you must ask for VCAT's permission to have someone represent you.

Read more about professional representation at VCAT.

Remember your reference number

VCAT gives you a reference number for your case. Use this number whenever you contact us or the other people involved in the case.

Access and privacy

VCAT hearings and files are usually public. We have limited authority to restrict access to information except in certain circumstances.

In Mental Health cases VCAT makes an order under the Open Courts Act 2013 to protect the privacy of the applicant by anonymising their name and preventing publication of their identity. Learn more about applying for confidentiality.

If you need assistance at VCAT (including interpreters, hearing loop, video or telephone links, or family violence support), contact us as early as possible so we can assist you. Learn more about customer support at VCAT.