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Mental health legislation - Australia and New Zealand

Mental Health Acts (MHAs) enable the involuntary commitment and treatment of people suffering acute psychiatric illness. Each jurisdiction in Australia and New Zealand has its own MHA and attempts to balance civil liberties with the need to prevent serious harm and provide care.

The RANZCP has prepared tables that summarise the MHAs across Australia and New Zealand.

We've highlighted key issues relevant to psychiatrists’ powers and responsibilities under the legislation on eight different topics:

  1. involuntary commitment and treatment
  2. informed consent to psychiatric treatment
  3. ECT
  4. special provisions governing informed consent to ECT
  5. seclusion
  6. restraint
  7. references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and Māori
  8. definition of a forensic patient  

Use these tables to:

  • better understand your legal context
  • see where the Acts share common features, and where the anomalies are
  • appreciate the differences for colleagues working in other (or across) jurisdictions
  • assess the practical effect of different laws
  • inform advocacy efforts.

. Read the literature review [PDF; 700KB]

. See RANZCP position statement: Mental health legislation and psychiatrists: putting the principles into practice