The Tribunal conducts a hearing to decide whether you remain on your treatment order (Treatment Authority – TA or Forensic Order – FO). At the Hearing there are usually three Tribunal members, a legal member, a medical member and a community member. You are invited to attend with your allied person or advocate and/or lawyer and at least one member of your treating team will also be present.
The Hearing is conducted at the hospital or health care centre where you are receiving treatment.
What happens at a hearing?
Hearings are not like a court. They are held at your local hospital or mental health service. A Tribunal panel normally includes a lawyer, a psychiatrist, and another person who is not a lawyer or a doctor. The Tribunal would like you to be there if possible. You may bring your allied person or advocate, and/or a lawyer if you have one. 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 any other persons 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, and the mental health service, telling you the time and place of your hearing. The treating psychiatrist is asked to write a report, and to make sure that you have had an opportunity to view the report and understand what is said in the report before the hearing. You may write down your views about your TA 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 moved 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 few days after the hearing.
What if I don’t agree with the Tribunal’s decision?
You can ask the Tribunal for reasons for the decision. Most decisions of the Tribunal can be appealed to the Mental Health Court. For more information contact the Registrar of the Mental Health Court.
Before the Hearing
The patient and their allied person, will receive a letter (“Notice of Hearing”) with the the date, time and place of the hearing.
- The patient may ask a lawyer to help in the hearing. A non-lawyer can represent the patient if the Tribunal agrees.
- The patient can ask to read the report written about them by their doctor, and any other documents that the Tribunal will consider to make a decision about the case.
- A patient can write their own report about their case to give to the Tribunal. They can ask for a “Patient Report” form from their mental health service or the Tribunal to do this.
During the Hearing
The hearing will be private, confidential and informal.
- The patient, allied person and lawyer or non-lawyer (if one is used) can ask questions, give information and discuss their view of the situation.
- The treating doctor will normally be present to give information to the Tribunal.
- The Tribunal will read and listen to all the information, and will make a decision about the case.
- In most cases, the Tribunal will advise on their decision on the day of the hearing.
After the Hearing
- The patient will receive a written decision in the mail.
- They can ask for written reasons for the Tribunal’s decision, however, there are some instances where the Tribunal may not give the reasons.
- If the decision of the Tribunal is disagreed with, in most cases an appeal can be made to the Mental Health Court.