Hearings

About Hearings

The Tribunal conducts hearings to make decisions in accordance with the Mental Health Act 2016. At the Hearing there are usually three Tribunal members, a legal member (a lawyer), a medical member (a psychiatrist or another doctor if a psychiatrist is not readily available) and a community member (another person who is not a lawyer or a doctor, but has the necessary skills and experience in exercising the Tribunal’s jurisdiction). There may be up to five members for some matters and on occasions with the President’s approval, there may be less than three members.

Patients are strongly encouraged to attend their hearing and may be represented by a nominated support person, a lawyer or another person. Patients may also be accompanied by someone from their support network or with the Tribunal’s permission, more than one member of the support network. At least one member of the treating team will also be present at the hearing.

Hearings are usually conducted at the hospital or health care centre where the person is receiving treatment, however on occasion, they will be held via videoconference or the telephone.

What happens at a hearing?

Hearings are not like a court. They are held at your local hospital or mental health service. The treating team are at the hearing to give a professional opinion about the person’s illness or disability and their progress/recovery. Patients will also have the opportunity to ask questions and give advice to the Tribunal regarding their matter.

If an interpreter is required, the Tribunal will make arrangements for this, at no cost to the patient. In most cases, the Tribunal will advise of their decision on the day of the hearing.

How will people know when a hearing is coming up?

The Tribunal will send a letter and a hearing notice to the patient, the nominated support person, any guardian and the mental health service, advising of the time and place of the hearing. The treating psychiatrist is asked to write a report, and to make sure that patients have had the opportunity to view the report and understand what is in the report before the hearing. Patients may write down your views about their order or authority 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. Patients may also just wish to speak to the Tribunal at the hearing.

What if a person can’t attend the hearing?

If the Tribunal really needs to speak to the patient or another person, the hearing may be adjourned to another date so that the person can attend. 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.

Before the Hearing

The patient, their nominated support person and guardian will receive a letter (“Notice of Hearing”) with the date, time and place of the hearing.

  • The patient may ask someone to represent them at the hearing. This could be a nominated support person, a lawyer or another person. In some cases, the Tribunal will have arranged legal representation for patients
  • The patient may ask someone from their support network to accompany them at the hearing
  • The patient should 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.

During the Hearing

The hearing will be private, confidential and informal.

  • The patient, nominated support person and representative may ask questions, give information and discuss their view of the situation
  • The treating team 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, nominated support person and guardian will receive a written decision in the mail
  • The patient or nominated support person or guardian on behalf of the patient 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.

What if I don’t agree with the Tribunal’s decision?

You can ask the Tribunal for reasons for the decision by emailing enquiry@mhrt.qld.gov.au and advising of the hearing date.

Most decisions of the Tribunal can also be appealed to the Mental Health Court. Further information regarding appeals can be found at http://www.courts.qld.gov.au/courts/mental-health-court/appealing-a-tribunal-decision