Mental Health Act 2009

The Mental Health Act 2009 provides South Australia with a legislative framework that sets out the rights of people with mental illness and assists with their recovery and participation in community life.

About the Mental Health Act 2009

The Mental Health Act 2009 was proclaimed on 1 July 2010 and it:

  • provides a legislative basis for mental health reform in SA
  • introduced significant changes in practice to bring services in line with national and international best practice
  • increases accountability through the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist
  • strengthened consumer and carer involvement to improve outcomes for consumers and families
  • provides for high quality, safe and multidisciplinary care and treatment
  • balances interventions with safeguards.

The objects of the Act

The objects of the Act are to ensure that people with serious mental illness:

  • receive a comprehensive range of services of the highest standard, with the aim of bringing about their recovery as far as possible
  • retain their freedom, legal rights, dignity and self-respect as far as is consistent with the protection of the person and the community. 

The Act introduced into South Australian legislation for the first time:

  • the concept of recovery
  • a definition of ‘relative’ that accommodates the kinship rules of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • provisions to work collaboratively with traditional healers (Ngangkari).

The guiding principles

The guiding principles of the Act

  • safeguard the rights of people with serious mental illness
  • recognise and respect people as individuals in terms of their culture and background
  • tailor their care and treatment (especially children and young people). 

The Act requires greater accountability, consistency and standardisation in all interactions between those who provide services and those who receive them.

The Act provides for care, treatment and rehabilitation in the least restrictive manner and gives limited powers to make orders for involuntary treatment.

Further supporting information available at the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist website: