Carers identified?

4.5 Summary of state and territory legislation

Page last updated: 2010


Mental Health Act reviewNameCarer Recognition Act
QLDCompleted 2000. Minor amendment 2007 related to forensic patients and victims of crime

Mental Health Act 2000Carer (Recognition) Act 2008

Carer Action Plan 2006–2010
NSWReview completed.Mental Health Act 2007Whole of Government Carer Action Plan, 2007–2012

ACTCurrently being reviewed.Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Act 1994No Act, principles included in Mental Health – Building A Strong Foundation: A Framework For Promoting Mental Health And Wellbeing In The ACT, 2009–2014.

VICAct reviewed 2009, new legislation being developed.Mental Health Act 1986Caring together – An action plan for carer involvement in Victorian public mental health services – 2006.

SANew Act is due to be proclaimed on 1 July 2010 and will replace the Mental Health Act 1993 from midnight on 30 June 2010.

Mental Health Act 2009Carers Recognition Act 2005

Whole of Government Carer Policy Implementation Plan 2006
WAReview ongoing.Mental Health Act 1996Carer Recognition Act 2004

TASAmended 2005.Mental Health Act 1996Mental health Consumer and Carer participation Framework 2006

NTReview completed.Mental Health and Related Services Act as in force 1 February 2010.Carer Recognition Act 2006

Carers Guide 2009, to The Mental Health and Related Services Act (2006)

As indicated in the Network's Identifying the Carer Project 2007 Report, the purpose of the various Mental Health Acts is primarily to protect the rights, articulate treatment, assessment and care provisions of the consumer. The purpose of these Acts is not primarily to identify or address the needs and rights of carers, even though they are integral to the care and safety of the consumer. Recent reviews of the Acts have increasingly identified the importance of the role of carers and their access to information, which allows them to provide care, but do not address the issue of identification. Top of page

Some Mental Health Acts specifically define carers, however, provisions that allow for information to be shared with other people, or for treatment to be initiated, are drafted in ways that do not adequately define a process for identifying or defining a "carer." For example, these include the concept of an "allied person" (Queensland Mental Health Act 2000), or "a person assuming the responsibility" for the care of the patient (Western Australia Mental Health Act 1996). These provisions focus on notification of information, usually after an event such as an involuntary admission and do not say how carers will be identified in order to fulfil this provision of the legislation.

The Northern Territory's Mental Health and Related Services Act 2006, is somewhat different in that it addresses the issue of carers' rights in relation to information, admission, treatment and discharge of the patient. This legislation, is first in Australia to balance the rights of both carer and consumer.

The NSW Mental Health Act (2007) makes provisions for a primary carer to receive information. The primary carer is defined primarily according to their relationship with the consumer with the emphasis on family, however, the concept of that relationship being 'close and continuing' was introduced which was an important innovation.

The Queensland Mental Health Act 2000 does not specifically identify carers although involuntary patients are entitled to nominate an 'allied person'.

All legislation defines carers but none address the issue of identification.