What are Your Rights as a Patient Attending a Tribunal Hearing?
You have the right to a fair and timely independent review
The Tribunal is required by law to review your involuntary order on a regular basis. You (or someone on your behalf) also have the right to make application for review at any time. Download Application Forms or pick them up from the Tribunal office or from the mental health service.
You have the right to attend your hearing
When the Tribunal has a hearing about your involuntary treatment, you can attend the hearing. You also have the right to choose not to attend. If the Tribunal is satisfied that you are not attending of your own free will, it will have the hearing without you. The Tribunal encourages all patients to attend their hearing if they can.
You have the right to have a lawyer represent you
Tribunal hearings are informal and you are not expected to have a lawyer. Even if you are not represented, the Tribunal is required by law to provide a fair hearing. If you want a lawyer, you can employ a private lawyer. You will need to pay for any legal fees if you employ a lawyer. Alternatively, you may be eligible for Legal Aid. A non-lawyer (advocate) may represent you if the Tribunal agrees. If you want an advocate, please ask the staff at the mental health service for information about who to contact.
You have the right to have someone support you
If you have an Allied Person, the Allied Person can attend the hearing. Your Allied Person can help you put forward your views about your involuntary treatment. If you do not have an Allied Person, you can bring someone else to the hearing. For example, a family member or friend can attend, if the Tribunal agrees. This person has the same role as an Allied Person. They can help you give your views to the Tribunal.
You have the right to respect and dignity
The Tribunal is required by law to apply the principles of the Mental Health Act 2000. This means that you will be listened to, and involved, in a private and dignified hearing. Your views and needs are an important part in the decision about your involuntary treatment. Mental Health Review Tribunal
You have the right to natural justice
Natural justice means that your hearing must be fair and free from bias. You also must be given the chance to read the information that the Tribunal will be taking into account. You need to be given enough time before the hearing to prepare what you want to say. You may also need to make arrangements for someone to attend the hearing with you. The Tribunal will notify you at least 7 days before the hearing. The Tribunal makes sure that the panel is independent. If you think there may be bias (for example, a member of the panel has prior knowledge of you that might affect their decision) you have the right to state your concerns.
You have the right to know the information the Tribunal is going to consider
The mental health service is responsible for allowing you to see the information that has been prepared for the Tribunal. At the hearing, if you have not seen the information beforehand, the Tribunal will allow you to go through the information. It is better if you can arrange to see the information before the hearing, so that you have time to take it in. Your right to information may be affected if a Confidentiality Order is made. If any information is to be kept confidential from you, the Tribunal will appoint a lawyer to represent you, and give the confidential information to the lawyer. You do not have to pay for the lawyer in this case.
You have the right to have your say
At the hearing, you, your Allied Person, lawyer or advocate (if you have one) can ask questions, give information, and discuss your views about your involuntary treatment. You can also place your own information before the Tribunal. This may be information about the steps you are taking towards recovery. The “Blue Patient Form” is one way of putting your own information forward. This form is sent to you by mail with the notice of your hearing. Download the “Self Report” form or pick it up from the Tribunal office. If you complete the form, please bring it with you to the hearing.
You have the right to an interpreter
If you need a language interpreter or a sign interpreter, the Tribunal will arrange this at no cost to you. The Tribunal uses approved interpreters. Please contact the Tribunal, or have someone contact the Tribunal for you, to ask for an interpreter. The Tribunal can also arrange a person with cultural knowledge or experience to assist at the hearing. If you would like cultural support at the hearing, please tell a member of staff at the mental health service, or contact the Tribunal.
You have the right to privacy and confidentiality
Tribunal hearings are closed. This means that only certain people who will contribute to the review can attend. Members and staff of the Tribunal are required by law to keep your information confidential. Any person attending the hearing must also keep information about you confidential. It is an offence under the law to publish information about any person involved in a Tribunal hearing.
You have the right to reasons
You, or someone on your behalf, can ask for a statement of reasons for the decision that was made at the hearing. The Tribunal will send you a written statement explaining the decision within 21 days after receiving your request.
You have the right to appeal
You can lodge an appeal against most decisions of the Tribunal at the Mental Health Court. Appeals must be made in writing within 60 days from when you receive your Tribunal decision. More information about appeals can be found by contacting: The Registrar, Mental Health Court Phone: (07) 3234 0703
You have the right to make a complaint
If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of your Tribunal hearing, you have the right to make a complaint to the President. The Tribunal encourages all forms of feedback. You will receive a “How was your MHRT hearing?” form with your written decision. You can complete this form and mail it back to the Tribunal, postage paid. “Compliments and Complaints” forms are another way to give us feedback. These forms are available for download, the Tribunal office and from the mental health service. If you would like to talk to someone at the Tribunal about ways that the hearing could be improved you can contact: The Consumer Consultant Phone (07) 3235 9059.