The Minister for Mental Health, the Hon. Tanya Davies MP, requested that NSW Health review the Mental Health Review Tribunal in respect of forensic patients.
The review considered if current law, processes and procedures appropriately balance:
- community safety
- interests of victims and their families
- care and treatment needs of forensic patients.
A final report was provided to the Minister for Mental Health and the Attorney General in December 2017.
The review found that the legislative test for forensic patient leave and release is appropriate, however the system is weighted too heavily towards the interests of patients, without due consideration for the safety and interests of victims.
The review report makes a number of recommendations to improve transparency and decision making.
The recommendations aim to better support victims and balance the interests of patients and victims by:
- balancing legislation to better acknowledge and reflect the victim experience
- allowing victim impact statements to be considered at Tribunal hearings or during court hearings
- clarifying and expanding opportunities for victims to be heard in Tribunal hearings
- improving Tribunal access, updating language and improving communication with victims; and
- strengthening mechanisms to supervise forensic patients while on leave or conditional release.
For more information, see the Terms of reference.
The review of the Mental Health Review Tribunal in respect of forensic patients has completed its consultation phase and is now closed for submissions. A Discussion Paper was prepared to support submissions.
Recognising the potential privacy and personal issues submissions may contain, they were sought on a confidential basis and will not be made publically available on the website.
Thank you to the patients, victims, families and stakeholders who shared their views and stories.
Submissions closed on 6 October 2017.
The review was undertaken by the Hon Anthony Whealy QC, a lawyer and former judicial officer, known as the ‘Reviewer’, with appropriate administrative support. The review report and recommendations drew on a broad range of information, including:
- eight week call for public submissions
- individual and group stakeholder consultations
- best practice audit.
The Tribunal is a specialist quasi-judicial body established under the Mental Health Act 2007.
The Tribunal makes decisions about the detention, leave and release of forensic patients. Forensic patients are people who the Court has found not guilty of a crime by reason of mental illness, or found unfit to be tried.
The Tribunal generally reviews the case of each forensic patient at least once every six months.