Mental health

The Community Stream of SACAT can make and review certain orders about persons with a mental illness under the Mental Health Act 2009.

SACAT is an essential safeguard in this area, ensuring that the rights and dignity of people with mental illness are respected.

If a person has a mental illness and requires treatment to protect themselves and/or others from harm, but the person is unable, or does not agree, to receive treatment, then treatment orders can be made by a psychiatrist, medical practitioner or authorised mental health professional and by SACAT to ensure that the person receives that treatment. Compulsory treatment orders can only be made when there are no less restrictive ways of ensuring that a person gets the appropriate treatment.

The main function of SACAT in this area, when making an order, or on review, is to determine if the criteria for making compulsory mental treatment orders as set out in the Act apply to the person.

SACAT deals with the following types of applications in this area:

  • Reviewing a Level 1 or Level 2 Inpatient Treatment Order (including the extension of a Level 2 Inpatient Treatment Order) for the compulsory inpatient treatment of a person with a mental illness in an approved treatment centre. A person that the order is about can make this application to SACAT. The Public Advocate, a guardian, medical agent or friend or any person with a proper interest can also apply.
  • A Level 1 Community Treatment Order can be reviewed under s 81.
  • Making a Level 3 Inpatient Treatment Order authorising the compulsory inpatient treatment of a person with a mental illness in an approved treatment centre for a period of up to 12 months.
  • Making an order for a Level 2 Community Treatment Order authorising the compulsory treatment of a person with a mental illness in the community for up to 12 months.
  • Giving consent to the administration of Electro-Convulsive Therapy Treatment (ECT) (where authorised by a psychiatrist) to a person with a mental illness, who is incapable of making decisions on his or her own behalf and does not have a medical agent or guardian (or a parent if under 16 years of age) who can give that consent. This is called “prescribed psychiatric treatment”. 
  • Giving consent to the carrying out of neurosurgery on a person with a mental illness, who is of or over the age of 16 where that treatment has been authorised by 2 psychiatrists and the person is unable to consent to the treatment. This is called “prescribed psychiatric treatment”. 

SACAT does not:

  • Make a Level I or Level 2 Inpatient Treatment Orders or a Level 1 Community Treatment Orders as these are made by a medical practitioner or authorised mental health professional.
  • Specify what treatment a person with a mental illness is to receive where an order for a Level 2 Community Treatment Order or a Level 3 Inpatient Treatment Order has been made. This is a matter for the person’s treating doctor in the community or at the approved treatment centre.

SACAT is also required to:

  • Automatically review an order to extend a Level 2 Inpatient Treatment Order as soon as practicable after receiving notice of the order from the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist.
  • Automatically review a Level 2 Community Treatment Order that relates to a child and continues in operation 3 months after it was made.
  • Automatically review the circumstances of the making of a Level 1 Inpatient Treatment Order if the Order was made within 7 days after the expiry or cancellation of a previous Level 1 Inpatient Treatment Order.
  • Automatically review a Level 3 Inpatient Treatment Order that relates to a child and continues in operation 3 months after it was made.

Upon the completion of any of these automatic reviews SACAT may confirm the Order, change the Order or cancel the Order. As these reviews are automatic no application needs to be made to SACAT for them to occur.

Review of SACAT decisions (Internal review):

There is a right to seek a Review of a SACAT decision:

  • to grant consent to prescribed psychiatric treatment (Electro-Convulsive Therapy) under the Mental Health Act (s42-44).
  • about a Level 2 Community Treatment Order under s 16 of the Act.
  • about a Level 3 Inpatient Treatment Order under s 29 of the Act.
  • about an Inpatient Treatment Order (including the extension of a Level 2 Inpatient Treatment Order) following an automatic review of the order under s 79 of the Act.

You do not need the permission of the Tribunal to apply for Internal Review of decisions made under the Mental Health Act. You will be advised about your rights to seek a review in writing after the decision is made by SACAT.

 Who can apply?

An application can be made for review of a SACAT decision under the Mental Health Act by:

1.     The applicant in the proceedings
2.     The person that the application is about
3.     The Public Advocate
4.     Any person who presented evidence or material or made submissions to the Tribunal in the matter
5.     Any other person who satisfies the Tribunal of a proper interest in the matter 

Does the treatment start if a Review is made?

If a treatment decision is made by SACAT under this Act (including consent to prescribed psychiatric treatment) the treatment decision will continue to operate even if an Internal Review is commenced. However, you can seek an order from SACAT or from the Supreme Court under s 73 of the SACAT Act 2013 to stay the operation of the decision until the Internal Review is finally decided.

Find out more about bringing an application to SACAT:

Find out more about inpatient treatment orders:

Find out more about community treatment orders:

Find out more about your legal rights about mental health treatment decisions:

Organisations that may be able to assist you in mental health matters:

Office for the Public Advocate

Disability Advocacy and Complaints Service of SA (DACSSA) 

Disability Rights Advocacy Service Inc SA (DRAS)

SA Health 

Relevant legislation: