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Mental Health Advice and Response Service

A specialist mental health service delivered by Orygen Youth Health.

The Children’s Court Mental Health Advice and Response Service (MHARS) is a specialist mental health service delivered by Orygen Youth Health (OYH) at Melbourne Children’s Court.

The MHARS Clinician is available to:

  • provide mental health assessments for young people appearing before the Children’s Court who present with suicidality, acute mental health concerns and/or distress whilst awaiting their court appearance
  • advise the Court whether mental health concerns are present or whether factors related to mental health may have a bearing on the proceedings
  • facilitate timely access to appropriate treatment and mental health support


A young person must:

  • be aged 10 – 18 years old; and
  • be charged with an offence and have been served with a Summons, or be on a Bail Order; or
  • be in police custody at the Children’s Court awaiting trial in the criminal division; or
  • be subject to court proceedings in the family division (Secure Welfare only).

At least one of the following criteria must also be met:

  • there are concerns about the mental health and wellbeing of the young person
  • the young person is engaging in or expressing a desire to engage in deliberate self-harming behaviours, or is expressing suicidal ideation, or is having thoughts to harm others
  • the young person’s judgment is severely impaired due to the effects of drugs and/or alcohol use, or any undetermined reason

Referral pathways

Referrals may be initiated by a wide range of sources including:

  • Magistrates and Court Personnel
  • Legal Practitioners and Victoria Police
  • Court Advice and Support Officers
  • Forensic Medical Officers
  • Child Protection and Youth Justice
  • Family, support people and self-referrals

Referrals may be made by phone or email.

Key services provided

  • assessments and reports responding to presenting mental health concerns
  • brief interventions as deemed appropriate
  • timely advice to Magistrates and other stakeholders regarding the mental health considerations of a young person
  • tailored recommendations detailing coordinated and collaborative treatment planning and support
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