Landmark case on mental health involuntary detention

Victorian Legal Aid says the first action of its kind in Australia concerns a woman identified only as Patient X who was readmitted to a Melbourne hospital for involuntary psychiatric treatment only hours after she was discharged by the then Mental Health Review Board, now the Mental Health Tribunal.

VLA’s Mental Health and Disability Advocacy Program Manager Christopher Povey said it was concerning that a treating psychiatrist had overridden the discharge order by the body charged with protecting the rights of people in the mental health system.

“The Mental Health Tribunal oversees decisions and provides the only way of challenging involuntary psychiatric treatment,” he said.

“We are concerned that the body which has medical expertise and legal authority – and has been tasked with deciding who should receive psychiatric treatment against their will – appears to have been ignored in this case.