The following supports can provide additional advocacy assistance when you have been admitted to a mental health facility. These supports can be helpful when your needs have not been met through your interactions directly with staff at the mental health unit.

Who can support me to exercise my rights?

  1. Peer Workers

A Peer Worker is someone who uses their shared lived experience to connect with you, inspire hope and support you through your recovery journey. They can help you navigate the mental health system and communicate your needs better to clinical staff.

Many mental health units now provide you access to peer workers who bring their personal lived experience of mental health issues. Peer workers can help you advocate for your rights when in hospital.

Examples of what a peer worker can do for you:

  • Help you better understand your rights when admitted to a mental health unit.
  • Help you prepare for a Mental Health Inquiry assessment or for a review hearing with the Mental Health Review Tribunal.
  • Attend a Mental Health Review Tribunal hearing as a support person.
  • Help advocate for you and communicate your needs when speaking with staff members and clinicians.

How do I find a peer worker?

Option 1: Ask staff if there is a peer worker on site you can speak to. Many mental health units have a peer worker on site.

Option 2: Look up or reach out to local mental health support services that can provide individual peer support.

  1. Official Visitors

Official Visitors are people who have the right under the Mental Health Act to visit a mental health service in the hospital or community. They help you to advocate for and protect your legal rights. It is recommended to discuss the matter with staff first before reaching out to the official visitors if possible.

Two official visitors visit mental health units at least once a month and community mental health facilities once every six months.

An official visitor can help advocate for your rights and help you resolve issues that cannot be resolved between you and the treating team, such as mistreatment you might be facing, including issues around your physical safety.

How do I contact an official visitor?

Option 1: You can ask to speak to the official visitor at any time during your admission to a mental health unit. It is your right under the Mental Health Act to be able to speak to the official visitor and staff are required to notify the official visitor within two days of your request.

Option 2: You can call the Official Visitor’s line on 1800 208 218.

Option 3: If you are at a mental health facility, you can leave a written note in the Official Visitors Box. Boxes are locked and only accessed by Official Visitors during their visit to the service. If you would like a response to your note, please make sure you leave your contact details.

  1. Mental Health Advocacy Service

The Mental Health Advocacy Service is part of Legal Aid NSW which provides you with free legal support and representation at the Mental Health Review Tribunal hearings. They make sure your rights are upheld and fair procedures are followed at the Mental Health Review Tribunal hearing as per the Mental Health Act.

What can the Mental Health Advocacy Service help me with?

They can provide free legal representation at Mental Health Review Tribunal hearings for the following reasons:

  • To help you appeal against an authorised medical officer’s decision to refuse your request for discharge.
  • To help you appeal against Mental Health Review Tribunal or Supreme Court decisions, including detention or a community treatment order.
  • To help you appeal against first time community treatment orders when you are discharged into the community.
  • To help you appeal against renewals of a community treatment order when you are in the community.
  • To help you appeal against a financial management order to have your money managed by the NSW Trustee and Guardian.
  1. Health Care Complaints Commission

You can contact the Health Care Complaints Commission to lodge a complaint about mistreatment or abuse.

Make sure you have tried to resolve the complaint directly with a staff member or health service first before contacting the Health Care Complaints Commission. For more information on how to do this, check out the NSW Health feedback page.



Consider first providing feedback or making a complaint directly to the health service or staff. Click the link

If you would like to escalate the matter further, you can click here to make an inquiry or lodge a complaint online to the Health Care Complaints Commission or call 1800 043 159.


Visit the Official Visitors website or call 1800 208 218 for more information.


Contact the Mental Health Advocacy Service, Legal Aid on 1300 888 529. You can also visit the Legal Aid website. 



A summary version of this resource is distributed as a printed pamphlet in NSW mental health inpatient and community mental health units, and other clinics.
You can download a printable version of the resource by clicking on this graphic.