Patient privacy and confidentiality is very important to the Mental Health Review Tribunal. The Tribunal strives to protect any personal information it receives at a hearing or that it holds as part of a record.
Patients are sometimes reluctant to attend a Tribunal hearing or to provide information to the Tribunal for fear that this information may be disclosed to other people. Section 528 of the Mental Health Act 2000 imposes a strict duty of confidentiality upon Tribunal members, employees and people providing services to the Tribunal. Section 525 prohibits publication of reports of Tribunal proceedings that identifies people involved. This means that your personal information cannot be disclosed to anyone else unless you approve the disclosure in writing or the law requires the disclosure.
The Tribunal’s Privacy Plan outlines the personal information held by the Tribunal and how privacy is maintained.
Tribunal hearings are held in private at Authorised Mental Health Services. On rare occasions an observer may attend a hearing to observe the Tribunal but this only happens when the patient gives their consent to the observer to be in the room.
Tribunal hearings are not recorded electronically. Sometimes the Tribunal may use video or teleconferencing to hold a hearing when a patient is located in a remote area or when there isn’t enough time or resources to have an in-person hearing. No tapes or electronic records are kept when hearings are held by videoconference or teleconference.
Forensic Patient Information Orders
A Forensic Patient Information Order displaces a patient’s right to confidentiality to a small degree.
Forensic Patient Information Orders (FPIOs) provide that victims, relatives of victims or other concerned persons may receive information about a patient’s hearing. Information that may be disclosed under a FPIO includes:
- When a review of a patient is to be carried out;
- The decision of the Tribunal at the hearing, including conditions of limited community treatment;
- Any approval for the patient to move out of Queensland;
- The transfer of the patient from one authorised mental health service to another;
- When a patient is absent from the authorised mental health service without approval;
- When a patient ceases to be a forensic patient and the reasons for the cessation.
FPIOs are made by the President of the Tribunal. The President can impose conditions on the person from whom the order is made.
The person receiving information under a FPIO is not to publicise this information. A person who publishes such information is liable for 2 years imprisonment or a maximum fine of $15,000.
Privacy and Victim and Concerned Persons submissions
Victim and Concerned Person submissions are placed before the Tribunal and are disclosed to the patient and other parties at the hearing, unless a Confidentiality Order is made. A person’s contact details are not provided to the Tribunal and the submission is not disclosed to any other persons except those at a hearing.