What is the Mental Health Review Tribunal?
The Tribunal is an independent body continued under the Mental Health Act 2016 to protect the rights of people receiving involuntary treatment for mental illness. It provides an independent review, and makes decisions about whether the treatment will be given in hospital or in the community. 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 does the Tribunal do?
The Tribunal automatically reviews Treatment Authorities (TA), Forensic Orders (FO) and Fitness for Trial (not permanent) (FFT), and young persons with mental illness who are detained in high security for treatment. The Tribunal also hears applications for involuntary patients to move out of Queensland, and applications to appeal against a decision made at the mental health service not to allow a person to visit a patient. In addition, if a person is not able to consent to treatment and needs electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), the psychiatrist must apply to the Tribunal for approval to give ECT.
What decisions does the Tribunal make?
The Tribunal can:
- Confirm (continue) or revoke (cease) an TA or FO
- If you are under an TA, allow you to leave the hospital for short periods (approve limited community treatment)
- change the category of the TA from inpatient to community (allow you to receive treatment in the community as an outpatient); or community to inpatient (require you to return to hospital for inpatient treatment)
- If you are under an FO, approve the extent to which you may leave the hospital (approve or order limited community treatment including anything from short escorted absences to full community treatment)
- If you are under an FO because you are not fit for trial, find you fit for trial or permanently unfit for trial
- If you are under an TA or an FO, order your transfer from one authorized mental health service to another
- Approve or refuse a psychiatrist’s application to give ECT
- Approve an involuntary patient to move permanently out of Queensland
What else does the Tribunal do?
- If you are under an FO, the Tribunal may make a Forensic Patient Information Order (allows certain limited information about a forensic patient to be given to the victim of the offence or another concerned person)
- If you FO is ceased, the Tribunal may make a Non-Contact Order (order that you have no contact with the victim of the offence, or a relative or associate of the victim, for two years)
- The Tribunal can make an Examination Order (order you to be examined by an independent psychiatrist for a specified purpose stated in the order)
- The Tribunal can issue an Attendance Notice (requires a person to come to a Tribunal hearing)
Who sits on the Tribunal?
Three members usually sit on each Tribunal panel, although sometimes there may be five members. Urgent cases may be decided by less than three members if it is in the patient’s interests to do so. Each panel must have a lawyer, a psychiatrist or other doctor, and a community member. The community member is an experienced mental health worker or someone with other skills and experience that are relevant to the decisions the Tribunal must make. Members are appointed by the Governor-in-Council for a term of no longer than 3 years. Part-time members are appointed throughout Queensland to enable panels to be constituted in a number of different locations.
How often will my case be reviewed?
- If you are on an TA, you will have a review within 6 weeks of the order being made and then at least once every 6 months
- If you are on an FO, you will have a review within 6 months of the order being made and then at least once every 6 months
- If you have been found unfit for trial (but not permanently unfit) the Tribunal must review your fitness for trial every 3 months for the first year. After the first year, if you are still not fit for trial, you will have a review every 6 months until you become fit for trial or the charges against you are discontinued. FO and fitness for trial reviews may occur together
- If you are under 17 years old and are detained in a high security unit the Tribunal will review your case within 7 days of admission, and then at least every three months
- You (or someone on your behalf) may apply to the Tribunal to have your case reviewed. There is no limit to the number of times a person may apply.
Public Interest Disclosure
To protect the rights and dignity of all people in Queensland who receive compulsory mental health treatment under the law.
A Queensland in which people with mental illness who receive compulsory treatment 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 receiving compulsory treatment.
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 established under the Mental Health Act 2016 as the statutory safeguard for the rights of patients receiving involuntary treatment for mental illness. The Tribunal is charged by the Act to:
- observe natural justice and provide independent, timely, fair, informal and private review hearings
- ensure the involuntary treatment provisions under the Act are appropriately applied and that patients are reviewed within statutory timeframes
- balance the right of the patient to receive treatment – 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 patients 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 with mental illness 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 5 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 spirit 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 5 years. The Deputy President provides leadership and direction to members and staff. It is the Deputy President’s responsibility to ensure that the Tribunal’s business is conducted in an efficient and effective manner in accordance with the requirements and spirit of the Act.
- The Executive Officer supports the President in fulfilling his 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 Executive Support Officer and an Administration Officer assist the 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 Client 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 patient rights.
- The Legal Officer provides advice on legal issues, policy and practice to the President, Tribunal members and staff of the Tribunal and manages a number of statutory processes under the Mental Health Act 2016, the Right to Information Act 2009, the Judicial Review Act 1991.
- The Senior Administration Officer supports the administrative functions of the Hearings and Client Services Team. The position is responsible for tasks associated with administration of the Mental Health Act 2016 including processing new Forensic Orders, requests for statements of reasons and appeals to the Mental Health Court, and requests to observe a hearing.
- 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.
- Indigenous Officer interacts with the Indigenous communities to provide best practice in supporting indigenous patients.
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 Senior Information Systems Officer and an Information Systems Officer 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 staff; 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 Officer and Administration Officer provide payroll, accounts processing, purchasing, records management, travel management and contribute to the quality management system.