Statutory Appointments

Approval of Medical Practitioners and Nurses, and appointment of Mental Health Officers (sections 109, 138 – 139)

The Chief Civil Psychiatrist and Chief Forensic Psychiatrist each have the ability to approve medical practitioners and nurses to perform particular statutory functions under the Mental Health Act 2013. The Act can be accessed from the Tasmanian Legislation website. Each Chief Psychiatrist may also appoint persons as Mental Health Officers, and the Chief Forensic Psychiatrist may approve persons for the purposes of provisions of the Act relating to forensic patients.

Find out about Approved Medical Practitioners

Who or What is an Approved Medical Practitioner?

An approved medical practitioner (AMP) is a person who has been approved under section 138 of the Act, by either the Chief Civil Psychiatrist or Chief Forensic Psychiatrist, as a medical practitioner for provisions of the Act.

To be approved as a medical practitioner a person must be a psychiatrist, or a medical practitioner who is otherwise qualified or experienced in the diagnosis or treatment of mental illness.

Under section 7 of the Mental Health (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Act 2013, a person who was an approved medical practitioner under the Mental Health Act 1996 is an approved medical practitioner under the Mental Health Act 2013.

What obligations, powers and functions do AMPs have?

AMP functions are set out in the Act. AMPs have responsibility under the Act for a range of matters, including:

  • Assessing patients on Assessment Orders, without informed consent, to confirm whether the patient meets the assessment criteria and to determine whether the patient also meets the treatment criteria
  • Applying to the Mental Health Tribunal for a Treatment Order for a patient who the practitioner is satisfied meets the treatment criteria
  • Discharging Treatment Orders
  • Assessing involuntary and forensic patients to determine whether urgent circumstances treatment is needed
  • Granting involuntary patients leave of absence from an approved hospital

Additional relevant information is contained in the Chief Psychiatrists' Standing Orders and Clinical Guidelines

How can I become an approved medical practitioner?

To be approved as a medical practitioner under the Act, a person MUST be ONE of the following:

  • A medical practitioner who is a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists OR
  • A medical practitioner who holds specialist registration in the specialty of psychiatry OR
  • A medical practitioner who holds limited registration that enables the medical practitioner to practise in the specialty of psychiatry OR
  • A medical practitioner who is otherwise qualified or experienced in the diagnosis or treatment of mental illness

Requests for approval will be considered by the Chief Civil Psychiatrist, or Chief Forensic Psychiatrist (as relevant) on a case by case basis. Requests will only be considered for medical practitioners who are familiar with the Mental Health Act 2013 and the Chief Psychiatrists' Standing Orders and Clinical Guidelines and who have:

  1. Downloaded, completed and returned the Request for Approval as a Medical Practitionerform to the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist before
  2. Accessing and successfully completing the Approved Medical Practitioner (Mental Health Act 2013) Online Competency Training Package (please note the training package links to content on the DoH intranet that cannot be accessed outside DoH workplaces).

Find out about Approved Nurses

Who or What is an Approved Nurse?

An approved nurse is a person who has been approved under section 138 of the Act, by either the Chief Civil Psychiatrist or Chief Forensic Psychiatrist, as a nurse for provisions of the Act.

To be approved as a nurse, a person must be a registered nurse who is qualified or experienced in the treatment or care of persons with mental illness.

What obligations, powers and functions do approved nurses have?

Approved nurses have responsibility under the Act for:

  • Authorising the seclusion of adult involuntary patients within approved hospitals
  • Authorising the seclusion of adult forensic patients within secure mental health units
  • Authorising the physical restraint of adult involuntary patients within approved assessment centres and approved hospitals
  • Authorising the physical restraint of adult forensic patients within secure mental health units

Approved nurses may also have a role in examining patients who are secluded or restrained at regular intervals, to see if the seclusion or restraint should continue to be terminated.

Approved nurse obligations as they relate to seclusion and restraint are set out in sections 56, 57, 58, 92, 94, 95 and 96 of the Act, which can be accessed from the Tasmanian Legislation website

Additional, relevant information is contained in the Chief Psychiatrists' Clinical Guidelines 9, 10 and 10A relating to Seclusion, Chemical Restraint and Physical and Mechanical Restraint.

How can I become an Approved Nurse?

Approval on the basis of qualification

The Chief Civil Psychiatrist and Chief Forensic Psychiatrist have approved registered nurses who possess certain qualifications and who work within an approved assessment centre, approved hospital or secure mental health unit, for the purposes of relevant sections of the Act.

Approval on the basis of experience

Requests for approval on the basis of experience will be considered by the Chief Civil Psychiatrist, or Chief Forensic Psychiatrist (as relevant) on a case by case basis. Requests will only be considered for registered nurses who have at least 12 months experience in the treatment or care of persons with mental illness, who are familiar with the Mental Health Act 2013 and the Chief Psychiatrists' Standing Orders and Clinical Guidelines, and who have

  1. Completed and returned the Request for Approval as a Nurse form, to the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist before
  2. Completing the Approved Nurse (Mental Health Act 2013) Online Competency Package (please note, the online competency package links to content on the Department of Health (DoH) intranet, and cannot be accessed outside DoH workplaces).

Find out about Mental Health Officers

About Mental Health Officers

Mental Health Officers are people who have been approved by either the Chief Civil Psychiatrist or the Chief Forensic Psychiatrist to perform certain powers and functions under the Mental Health Act 2013. These generally relate to protective custody and transport and escort functions.

Sections 17-21, 31, 46, 59, 61 and Schedule 2 of the Act provide more information about Mental Health Officers and how functions and powers should be exercised. Additional, relevant information is contained in the Chief Psychiatrist Clinical Guidelines and Standing Orders page

How can I become a Mental Health Officer?

Under the Act, people approved as Mental Health Officers must have skills, qualifications or experience relevant to the responsibilities of Mental Health Officers under relevant provisions of the Act. For Ambulance Officers, consent of the Commissioner of the Ambulance Service is also required.

People seeking approval to become a Mental Health Officer should:

  1. Download and complete the Request for Approval as a Mental Health Officer form
  2. Access and complete the Mental Health Officer (Mental Health Act 2013) Online Competency Training Package (please note: this links to content on the DoH Intranet that cannot be accessed outside DoH workplaces).
  3. Return the completed form, and certificate evidencing completion of the training package, to the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist for processing. Please see the form for up to date contact details.