Victoria Legal Aid has launched a new service called Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA). The new body is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, and will provide assistance to people in negotiating the mental health system.
The Mental Health Act 2014 (Vic) was passed last year, and introduced a human rights-based approach to mental health services in Victoria. One major reform was the establishment of the Mental Health Tribunal, which oversees the assessment of people’s mental health and make compulsory treatment orders where necessary. Its decisions are reviewable by VCAT’s Human Rights List.
The new IMHA service will help people who are are subject to a compulsory order, who might be subject to one in future, or who have recently been discharged. It does not provide medical or legal advice, but helps people understand their rights and assists them in communicating their views to medical practitioners and agencies.
Where specialist legal advice or representation is required, IMHA will refer people to appropriate services, including Victoria Legal Aid.