The Mental Health Act 2016 (the Act) contains specific provisions relevant to victims of unlawful acts for which a person is made the subject of a forensic order or treatment support order by the Mental Health Court.
The Tribunal has prepared an information sheet for victims to assist in explaining the role of the Mental Health Review Tribunal (Tribunal). You can find a copy of that information sheet here.
Who is a Victim?
According to the Act, a victim of an unlawful act is a person against whom the unlawful act was committed or allegedly committed.
Principles for Victims
The Act establishes a set of principles to which a person performing a function under the Act must have regard.
These principles apply to victims and close relatives of a victim and other individuals who have suffered harm because of an unlawful act committed against the victim.
These principles, set out in section 6 of the Act, are:
- the physical, psychological and emotional harm caused to the victim must be recognised with compassion;
- the benefits of counselling, advice on the nature of proceedings under the Act and other support services to the recovery of the victim must be recognised;
- the benefits of advising the victim in a timely way of proceedings must be recognised;
- the benefits of timely completion of proceedings must be recognised;
- the benefits of advising the victim in a timely way of a decision to allow a person to be treated in the community must be recognised; and
- the benefits of victims having the opportunity to express their views on the impact of the unlawful act must be recognised.
Victim Impact Statements
A victim, or close relative of a victim, can give information to the Mental Health Court (the Court) and Mental Health Review Tribunal (the Tribunal) about the impact of the unlawful act and make requests for conditions on a person’s order, relevant to their own safety and wellbeing. This is called a Victim Impact Statement (VIS).
The Court must consider a VIS in deciding matters for the person and will take into account any conditions requested by the victim in their statement. The Court must then provide a copy of the VIS to the Tribunal. Information on the Courts processes are outlined at About the Mental Health Court | Queensland Courts or alternatively for general queries regarding the Court, please contact the Court’s Registry on (07) 3082 0554 or [email protected].
The Tribunal is required to consider a VIS before it at each review of the person’s order. This includes any VIS received from the Court. Even if a victim or close relative of a victim did not provide a VIS to the Court, they can provide a VIS for the Tribunal to consider if they wish to do so.
The Tribunal retains the discretion to endorse or remove conditions on a person’s order and utilises a wide variety of information, including the information within a victim impact statement, to make this decision.
Understandably, writing a VIS may be distressing and retraumatising for victims. Therefore, the Queensland Health Victim Support Service (QHVSS) is available to assist with making a VIS to the Mental Health Court or Tribunal or for general queries. QHVSS is contactable on (07) 3858 4411, 1800 208 005 (Free call) or email [email protected]. If you wish to submit a VIS to the Tribunal, we ask that you first contact QHVSS.
Further information on how the Tribunal handles VIS and a template can be found here:
- Quick Reference Guide – Victim Impact Statements before the MHRT click here;
- A Victim Impact Statement Template click here.
There is no obligation to provide a VIS.
The Act includes an entitlement for victims to receive specific information about the subject person, that is relevant to their safety and wellbeing. This is called an Information Notice. The following people may apply for an Information Notice:
- a victim;
- a close relative of a victim; and
- another individual who has suffered harm before of the unlawful act and has a sufficient personal interest in receiving information about the person.
The Chief Psychiatrist, Queensland Health is responsible for considering applications for Information Notices and providing relevant information to people who hold Information Notices.
More information about Information Notices and how to apply can be found here: Victim support | Queensland Health.