The Tribunal conducts a hearing to decide whether you remain on your treatment order — Involuntary Treatment Order (ITO) or Forensic Order (FO). At the hearing there are usually three Tribunal members, a legal member (presiding member), a psychiatrist member and a community member.
You are invited to attend with an allied person. If you do not have an allied person you can arrange for a support person to come with you. A lawyer can also support you at your hearing. If you do not have a lawyer you can ask an advocate to attend. At least one member of your treating team will also be present.
The hearing is conducted at the hospital or mental health care centre where you are receiving treatment or, where possible, at an Indigenous community venue.
What happens at a hearing?
Hearings are not like a court. A Tribunal panel normally includes a lawyer, a psychiatrist, and another person who is not a lawyer or a doctor. Where possible, the Tribunal will arrange for an Indigenous member to be a part of a panel for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patient reviews.
The Tribunal would like you to be there if possible. You may bring your allied person and/or a lawyer if you have one. If you do not have an allied person or a lawyer you can ask an advocate, or a support person to come with you. The psychiatrist, doctor and/or case manager is at the hearing to give a professional opinion about your illness. You can ask questions of the doctor and the Tribunal, and anyone else present.
If you or someone on your behalf, tell the Tribunal that an interpreter or cultural support person is needed before the hearing, the Tribunal will make arrangements for this at no cost to you.
In most cases, the Tribunal will tell you the decision on the day of the hearing.
How will I know when a hearing is coming up?
The Tribunal will send a letter and a hearing notice to you, your allied person (if you have one), and the mental health service, telling you the date, time and place of your hearing. If you are having your first hearing you and your allied person will also be sent a Tribunal DVD, Deadly Choices, Solid Decisions. The DVD will assist you to understand what is involved in the hearing process.
The treating psychiatrist is asked to write a report, and to make sure you have had an opportunity to read the report and understand what is said in the report before the hearing. You may write down your views about your Involuntary Treatment Order or Forensic Order and what is said in the doctor’s report, and send it to the Tribunal or give it to the Tribunal panel at the hearing.
What if I can’t attend the hearing?
If the Tribunal really needs to speak to you, the hearing may be adjourned to another date so that you can attend, or the Tribunal may phone you at home if you agree. If the Tribunal can make a decision without you being there, then the decision will be sent to you by mail within a week after the hearing.
Before the Hearing
You and your allied person will receive a ‘Notice of Hearing’ letter with the date, time and place of the hearing.
Before the hearing you can:
- Ask a lawyer to help in the hearing. A person who is not a lawyer can represent you if the Tribunal agrees.
- Contact the Indigenous Mental Health Worker from the mental health service where you are receiving treatment for assistance and support through the hearing process.
- Read the report written about you by your doctor, and any other documents that the Tribunal will consider to make a decision about the case.
- Write your own report about your case to give to the Tribunal. You can ask for a ‘Self Report’ form from your mental health service or the Tribunal.
During the Hearing
The hearing will be private, confidential and informal and allows time for:
- You, your allied person and lawyer or representative to ask questions, give information and discuss their view of the situation.
- The treating doctor to give information to the Tribunal.
- The Tribunal to read and listen to all the information, and make a decision about the case. In most cases, the Tribunal will give their decision on the day of the hearing.
- You and your treating team may be asked to wait outside the hearing room while the panel makes its decision.
A representative of the Attorney-General may attend to represent the community’s view for forensic order reviews.
After the Hearing
You will find out about the Tribunal’s decision by:
You will find out about the Tribunal’s decision by receiving a written decision in the mail.
If you disagree with the decision of the Tribunal an appeal can be made to the Mental Health Court.
You can also request a written Statement of Reasons for the decision from the Tribunal. There are some instances where the Tribunal may not give the reasons.
For more information contact the Registrar of the Mental Health Court.