Victorian psychiatrists call for careful consideration on new legislation

31 August 2021

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has welcomed the development of the new Victorian Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 (the Act) to support the improvement and rebuild of Victoria’s mental health system.

Chair of the RANZCP Victorian Branch, Dr Astha Tomar, supported the intention to develop the best possible mental health system for consumers, carers and the community.

The RANZCP Victorian Branch however does urge caution in finalising the proposed Act, without further and more comprehensive consultation.

‘We emphasise the importance of building on existing research, evidence, and clinical and academic expertise – together with lived experience voices.

The RANZCP Victorian Branch supports the reduction of compulsory treatment as indicated by the Royal Commission recommendations.

‘We have significant concerns and strongly object to a number of the proposed criteria for compulsory treatment, which could have unintended and negative consequences for our community’, said Dr Tomar.

‘We support the development of resources and strategies which minimise, and where possible, work towards eliminating the use of restrictive practices in Victorian mental health services.

‘There must also be appropriate resourcing to meet community expectations that have been further highlighted by the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System (RCVMHS).

‘This includes equitable access to quality care and the structures to support and regulate system performance issues, in a new system enshrining lived experience in partnership with clinical expertise.’

‘We’ve learnt from the RCVMHS that there are a lot of changes that need to be made to our system to rebuild’, said Dr Tomar.

‘We also know it is difficult to legislate for system quality. Legislative change alone will not deliver this. To make a difference, system changes need to be in place before legislative changes.

‘It will be important to prioritise the needs of our most vulnerable populations who are struggling with severe mental illnesses. 

‘The RCVMHS report has built a foundation with the huge contribution of many people with lived experience.

‘Going forward we are excited about the opportunity to work in partnership to enable input of all voices.’

The RANZCP Victorian Branch looks forward to working together with the Victorian Government, mental health colleagues, consumers, and carers in contributing to the development of the new Act.

For all other expert mental health information visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.

ENQUIRIES: For more information, or to arrange an interview call Sarah Carr on +61 (0)3 9640 0646 or +61 437 315 911, or email