What is the Mental Health Review Tribunal?
The Mental Health Review Tribunal (known as the Tribunal or the MHRT) is an independent decision making body under the Mental Health Act 2016 . The Tribunal is not part of any health service or treating team and its primary purpose is to review the involuntary status of persons with a mental illness and/or intellectual disability. The Tribunal also provides approval for the performance of electroconvulsive therapy and non-ablative neurosurgical procedures.
In making its decisions, the Tribunal must balance the rights of the patient with the rights of others, including victims of unlawful acts, and the need to protect the community. Further, in exercising its jurisdiction the Tribunal must act independently and is not subject to direction or control by any entity, including any Minister.
The Tribunal consists of a President, Deputy President and approximately 100 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 constituted by appointed members. 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 in areas throughout Queensland to enable panels to be constituted in a number of different locations.
The Tribunal has three different categories of membership:
- Legal members – lawyers of at least 5 years standing
- Medical members – registered psychiatrists
- Community members - a person with qualifications and experience relevant to exercising the Tribunal’s jurisdiction.
A panel may consist of between one and five members. Generally, panels will usually consist of three members; a legal member, a medical member and a community member.
What does the Tribunal do?
The Tribunal has the jurisdiction set out in the Mental Health Act 2016. It has authority to hear specified 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
- the detention of minors in high security units.
The Tribunal hears the following applications:
- examination authorities (EA)
- to perform regulated treatments, in particular electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and non-ablative neurosurgical procedures
- approval to transfer patients into and out of Queensland
- confidentiality orders.
The Tribunal hears appeals against:
- particular decisions of the Chief Psychiatrist in relation to information notices
- decisions of Administrators of Authorised Mental Health Services to refuse to allow a person to visit a patient in their service.
In certain circumstances, the Tribunal also has authority to make treatment authorities, treatment support orders and forensic orders.
What decisions does the Tribunal make?
For each type of hearing that the Tribunal conducts, the Mental Health Act 2016 sets out the decisions that the Tribunal can make.
Further information about the types of decisions that the Tribunal can make at a particular hearing can be found in the Tribunal’s Information Sheets.
What else does the Tribunal do?
In some circumstances, the Tribunal is not able to reach a decision on the day of the hearing. The Tribunal panel may decide to adjourn the hearing, which means that the hearing will be rescheduled for a later time.
When hearing a particular matter, the Tribunal may:
- order an examination (a Tribunal Ordered Examination) which requires a person submit to an examination by a stated doctor for the purpose of the doctor preparing a medical report.
- 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?
How often a person’s authority or order will be scheduled for review by the Tribunal will depend on which type of authority or order it is.
|Treatment Authority||A treatment authority will first be reviewed by the Tribunal within 28 days of the authority being made. The next two reviews will be within six (6) monthly intervals. Thereafter, reviews are at intervals of not more than 12 months.|
|Treatment Support Order||A treatment support order is reviewed within six (6) months of the order being made and then at intervals of not more than six (6) months.|
|Forensic Order||A forensic order is reviewed within six (6) months of the order being made and then at intervals of not more than six (6) months.|
|Fitness For Trial||If a person has been found unfit for trial (but not permanently unfit), the Tribunal must review the person’s fitness for trial every three (3) months for the first year. After that first year, reviews are every six (6) months until the person becomes fit for trial or the charges are discontinued.|
|Minor in High Security Unit||If a minor is detained in a high security unit, the Tribunal will review the matter within seven (7) days of being notified. Reviews will then be conducted at intervals of not more than three (3) months.|
In addition to these periodic statutory reviews, a person subject to an authority or order, and certain other people, may apply to the Tribunal to have the matter considered outside of the standard review timeframes.
The Tribunal is also authorised to initiate a review of a matter.