What is the Mental Health Review Tribunal?
The Tribunal is an independent decision making body under the Mental Health Act 2016 whose primary purpose is to review the involuntary status of persons with a mental illness and/or intellectual disability. It provides an independent review and hearings are conducted in an informal manner. The Tribunal consists of a President, Deputy President and approximately 80 members. There is also an Executive Officer and other staff necessary for the Tribunal to exercise its jurisdiction.
How is the Tribunal constituted for a hearing?
Each Tribunal panel is usually constituted by three members, although sometimes there may be up to five members. Some cases may be decided by less than three members if the President is satisfied it is in the patient’s interests to do so. Each panel will usually consist of a lawyer, a psychiatrist or other doctor, and another person who is not a lawyer or a doctor (a community member). The community member is a person with qualifications and experience relevant to exercising the Tribunal’s jurisdiction. Members are appointed by the Governor-in-Council on a part-time or full-time basis for a term of no longer than three years. Members are appointed throughout Queensland to enable panels to be constituted in a number of different locations.
What does the Tribunal do?
The Tribunal’s jurisdiction encompasses reviews, applications and appeals.
The Tribunal reviews:
- Treatment Authorities (TA)
- Treatment Support Orders (TSO)
- Forensic Orders (FO)
- The Fitness for Trial (FFT) of particular persons, and
- The detention of minors in high security units
The Tribunal hears applications:
- For examination authorities
- To perform regulated treatments (electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and deep brain stimulation procedures), and
- For approvals to transfer patients into and out of Queensland
The Tribunal hears appeals against:
- Particular decisions of the Chief Psychiatrist in relation to information notices, and
- Decision of administrators of authorised mental health services to refuse to allow a person to visit a patient in their service
What decisions does the Tribunal make?
The Tribunal can:
- Confirm (continue) or revoke (cease) a TA, TSO or FO
- Make a TA or TSO
- Make or change the category of the TA, TSO or FO to community or inpatient
- If the category is inpatient, approve limited community treatment (LCT) which may allow leave into the community
- Impose conditions on the TA, TSO or FO
- Make a finding of fitness for trial or a finding of permanently unfit for trial
- Order a transfer from one authorised mental health service to another
- Issue or refuse to issue an examination authority
- Approve or refuse an application to perform ECT
- Approve or refuse a transfer into or out of Queensland
In making these decisions, the Tribunal must balance the rights of the patient with the rights of others and the protection of the community.
What else does the Tribunal do?
- The Tribunal may order an examination (a Tribunal Ordered Examination) ordering that a person submit to an examination by a stated examining practitioner for a specified purpose stated in the order
- The Tribunal may issue an Attendance Notice requiring that a person attend a Tribunal hearing or produce a stated document or thing that is relevant to the hearing
How often are reviews conducted?
- A TA is reviewed within 28 days of the authority being made. A further review will occur within six months after the initial review, six months thereafter and at subsequent intervals of not more than 12 months
- A TSO is reviewed within six months of the order being made and then at intervals of not more than six months
- An FO is reviewed within six months of the order being made and then at intervals of not more than six months
- If a person has been found unfit for trial (but not permanently unfit) the Tribunal must review the fitness for trial every three months for the first year. After the first year, if the person is still not fit for trial, there will be a review every six months until the person becomes fit for trial or the charges are discontinued. FO and fitness for trial reviews may occur together
- If a minor is detained in a high security unit, the Tribunal will review the case within seven days of being notified of the approval for detention and then at intervals of not more than three months
- A person subject to an authority or order and certain other people may apply to the Tribunal to have the case reviewed outside of the standard reviews
Who can support or represent a person at a hearing?
A person who is the subject of a proceeding may be accompanied at the hearing by a member of their support network (eg nominate support person, family member, carer or other support person). With the Tribunal’s leave, more than one person may support the person.
The person who is the subject of a proceeding may also be represented at the hearing by a nominated support person, a lawyer or another person. The Tribunal will appoint a lawyer for a person at no cost to the person in the following instances:
- If the person is a minor
- For a review of a person’s fitness for trial
- For an application for approval to perform ECT
- For a review of an FO where the Attorney-General is to be represented
To protect the rights and dignity of all people in Queensland who receive compulsory mental health treatment and care under the law.
A Queensland in which people with mental illness and/or intellectual disability who receive compulsory treatment and care are confident their voice will be heard and their rights protected by a Tribunal that encourages their participation in decisions about their future.
A Tribunal that is acknowledged by consumers, stakeholders and the wider community to be an independent, fair and impartial body respecting the dignity and rights of people with mental illness and/or intellectual disability receiving compulsory treatment and care.
A body of staff and members embracing a philosophy of best practice, skills development and continuous learning to provide quality service to people with mental illness who receive compulsory treatment.
The Mental Health Review Tribunal is an independent body under the Mental Health Act 2016 that acts as the statutory safeguard for the rights of patients receiving involuntary treatment and care for mental illness and/or intellectual disability. The Tribunal is charged by the Act to:
- observe natural justice and provide independent, timely, fair, informal and private review hearings
- ensure the involuntary provisions under the Act are appropriately applied and that patients are reviewed within statutory timeframes
- balance the right of the person to receive treatment and care – in ways that enhance his/her quality of life and is least restrictive of rights and liberty – with community safety by ensuring appropriate consideration and management of unacceptable risk
- encourage and respect the participation of involuntary persons and their representatives in proceedings before the Tribunal
- acknowledge cultural diversity
To fulfill its role the Tribunal:
- recruits and maintains qualified, experienced and trained Tribunal members and staff engaged in a continuous process of skills development
- implements quality systems and processes to maintain standards, values, code of conduct and service to all stakeholders
- maintains a strong focus on customer service in meeting the needs and protecting the rights of people who come before the Tribunal
- provides all necessary advice, resources, and support to stakeholders and service providers
Managing relationships with stakeholders and the community in ways that promote the Tribunal’s fairness, impartiality and independence.
Consistent, transparent, and accountable processes and decisions.
Contributing to the professional development of our Tribunal members and staff and to the body of knowledge that informs Tribunal best practice.
Working creatively to deliver quality services and promote a culture of excellence.
Tribunal Office Team
The Mental Health Act 2016 provides for an Executive Officer and other administrative staff to assist the Tribunal in exercising its functions.
- The President is a full-time member of the Tribunal appointed by the Governor-in-Council for a term of up to five years. The President provides leadership and direction to members and staff. It is the President’s responsibility to ensure that the Tribunal’s business is conducted in an efficient and effective manner in accordance with the requirements and principles of the Act.
- The Deputy President is a full-time member of the Tribunal appointed by the Governor-in-Council for a term of up to three years. The Deputy President provides leadership and direction to members and staff.
- The Executive Officer supports the President in fulfilling their statutory role and is accountable for the management, leadership and direction of staff as well as statewide strategic planning and development to enhance the quality and effectiveness of Tribunal operations.
- The Senior Executive Support Officer and Executive Support Officer assist the President, Deputy President, Executive Officer and other senior staff by providing a range of administrative support. This includes coordination of meetings; correspondence and records management; reception and secretarial support.
The Hearings Services team undertakes the client-related activities of the organization including coordination of hearings, consumer consultation, complaints management, building public and stakeholder awareness of the Tribunal, and developing appropriate responses to cultural diversity. The team is responsible for ensuring that the Tribunal upholds the principles of the Mental Health Act 2016 and protects the rights of people receiving involuntary treatment and care.
- The Principal Legal Officer and Legal Officer provides advice to the President, Tribunal members and staff on legal issues, policies and practices of the Tribunal. They also manage a number of statutory processes under the Mental Health Act 2016, the Right to Information Act 2009 and the Judicial Review Act 1991.
- The Indigenous Liaison Officer interacts with Tribunal members, staff and Indigenous stakeholders to provide best practice in supporting Indigenous persons.
- The Manager contributes ot hte strategic direction of the Tribunal and sets the policies and procedures for the Hearing Services Team. They are also responsible for staff education, website content and review and management of hearings related complaints.
- The Team Leader interacts with Tribunal memberse to develop the schedule of hearings and is responsible for managing examination authority applications.
- The Senior Hearings Coordinator is responsible for the day to day management and support of Hearings Coordinators and Hearings Support Officers, including the administrative tasks associated with the operational and quality management of hearings coordination.
- Hearing Coordinators are responsible for managing all statutory reviews and applications under the Mental Health Act 2016. This includes the scheduling of hearings, maintaining patient files and the Tribunal register, liaising with various parties, and ensuring the documentation requirements of members are met.
- Hearing Support Officers provide support to the Hearing Coordinators by registering notifications and applications, liaising with parties, coordinating the availability of material for hearings, preparation of documents, and distributing decisions.
The Corporate Services Team is responsible for maintaining the administration and office environment for the Mental Health Review Tribunal, incorporating building services and financial, human resource and information management.
- The Manager supports the Executive Officer, Deputy President and President in the delivery of critical coporate and administrative functions, including IT, Finance and Human Resources. Further, the Manager provides leadersehip and strategic insight into capability development initiatives.
- The Principal Corporate Systems Officer is responsible for the delivery of functional Information Technology services for the Triobunal, including the development and maintenance of all information systems and technology. Further, the Principal Corporate Systems Officer provides critical financial support to the Tribunal and the Manager, managing and monitoring the Tribunals budget and related expenditure.
- The Information Systems Officers are responsible for the development and maintenance of all information systems that support the effective functioning of the Mental Health Review Tribunal. This includes the maintenance of a computer network for members and s taff; ensuring that the patient information system meets the changing needs of the Tribunal; developing IT solutions and implementing IT strategic plans to promote the independent functioning of the Tribunal; and coordinating the IT skill development of staff and members.
- The Business Support Officers and Administration Officer provide payroll, accounts processing, purchasing, records management, and travel management.. They also provide project support to the President, Deputy President and Manager.