The Mental Health Act 2016 promotes voluntary engagement of people requiring mental health treatment and care, however, in some circumstances this is not successful. An Examination Authority (EA) may be required to respond to serious concerns about a person’s mental health and wellbeing.
EAs are issued by the Mental Health Review Tribunal. Click here for an information fact sheet on applications for EAs.
An EA authorises a doctor or authorised mental health practitioner to examine a person without that person’s consent to determine whether a Recommendation for Assessment should be made.
In circumstances where there are unknown risks or where immediate and serious risks are identified, an EA is not the appropriate course of action. The Queensland Ambulance Service or Queensland Police Service should be contacted in these circumstances and where appropriate, they will enact an Emergency Examination Authority.
If you are concerned that someone is currently in danger and presenting a serious risk to themselves or someone else, you should contact emergency services on 000.
Further information on the Emergency Examination Authority process can be found on the Queensland Health website.
Criteria for an EA
Before issuing an EA, the Tribunal must consider that all of the following apply to the person the subject of the application:
- the person has, or may have, a mental illness
- the person does not, or may not, have capacity to consent to treatment
- reasonable attempts at voluntary engagement have been unsuccessful, or
- it is not practicable to engage the person voluntarily, and
- there is, or may be, an imminent risk because of the person’s mental illness of either
- serious harm to the person or others, or
- the person suffering serious mental or physical deterioration.
Applying for an EA
The application form can be found here.
The following people can apply for an EA for another person:
- the Administrator of an authorised mental health service;
- a person authorised in writing by the administrator of an authorised mental health service to make an application; or
- a person who has received advice from a doctor or authorised health practitioner, about the clinical matters for the person who is subject of the application.
A member of the public can apply for an EA if they have received advice from a doctor or authorised mental health practitioner about the person’s mental state and the doctor or authorised mental health practitioner supports the need for an EA.
A member of the public must complete Part A of the approved application form and discuss the reasons surrounding the application with a doctor or authorised mental health practitioner. If the doctor or authorised mental health practitioner supports the application, they are required to complete Part B of the approved application form. Both completed parts need to be sent to the Tribunal by email or post. Further details on where to send the application can be found on the application form.
If you require help contacting your local authorised mental health service, you can telephone the 24 Hour Mental Health Hotline on 1300 MH CALL (1300 64 22 55) or alternatively call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84). A General Practitioner (GP) may also assist in completing Part B.
What happens after an application is submitted?
On receiving the completed application form, the Tribunal will contact the Applicant and a hearing will be organised to allow the Tribunal to consider the application.
The Mental Health Act 2016 requires that an Applicant be given three (3) days’ notice of the hearing however an Applicant may agree to waive the three (3) days’ notice.
Most applications are heard within seven (7) days of the Tribunal receiving a completed application.
What happens at the hearing?
Applicants usually attend the hearing via phone or in person. The Tribunal will ask the Applicant questions in relation to the application they have submitted. The Applicant may be accompanied by a support person if they choose.
What decisions can the Tribunal make?
After reviewing the application form and listening to all the information at the hearing, the Tribunal will make a decision whether to issue, or refuse to issue, an EA. In some cases, the Tribunal may decide more information is required, and may, for example contact the person who completed Part B.
The Tribunal may issue an EA for the person only if the Tribunal considers all the criteria are met.
Should an EA be issued, it is valid for seven (7) days.
What happens after the hearing?
In most cases, the Tribunal will tell the Applicant what their decision is at the hearing. On limited occasions the Tribunal may not be able to make their decision at the hearing and the Applicant will receive their decision at a later time. A written notice advising of the Tribunal’s decision will also be sent to the Applicant via email or post.
Should an Examination Authority be issued, a copy of the Authority will be provided to the stated authorised mental health service to carry out an assessment within 7 days. The Tribunal is not responsible for carrying out the assessment. The Applicant may be contacted by the authorised mental health service if further information or assistance is required.
The person subject to the application may be provided with a copy of the EA by the authorised mental health service. The EA does not contain the name of the Applicant. Please be aware that there may be other legal mechanisms via which a person the subject of an EA can gain information about the application.
If the Applicant would like to know the reasons for the Tribunal’s decision, they can request a written statement of reasons. Applicants can find further information on how to request statement of reasons on the back of the decision notice or by clicking here.
The Tribunal’s decision regarding an application for EA cannot be appealed to the Mental Health Court. However, if appropriate, the Applicant my wish to submit a new application for consideration by the Tribunal.