Politics — 17 February 2014

A new mental health act expected to go before the Victorian Parliament next  week will tighten controls around compulsory treatment, including  electroconvulsive therapy, in long-awaited reforms that will strengthen  protections for patients.

The act, due to take effect from July, will establish a new tribunal to  approve ECT for patients who are too sick to provide consent, and for children  under 18.

Victoria is the only jurisdiction in Australia that allows ECT for patients  unable to provide consent and without external review from a tribunal or second  psychiatrist, under existing 28-year-old laws.

The government has backed down on plans to ban ECT for children aged 12 and  under after doctors said the treatment, while used very rarely for children, was  a valuable option for cases of severe depression when other treatment options  had been exhausted.