Question – Will I always get a lawyer to represent me at Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT) hearings?
Answer – Normally a lawyer is only appointed automatically if a representative of the attorney general would be sitting at the Tribunal or the matter has been referred from Legal Aid Queensland. You can always contact community legal centres like Queensland Advocacy Incorporated (QAI) or Law Right for assistance with representation at your hearing.
Question – Can I waive the right to legal representation?
Answer – Yes.
Question – Is the MHRT part of the treating team?
Answer – No, the MHRT is independent of the treating team.
Question – What is the clinical report?
Answer – The clinical report sets out the doctor’s reasons for why he or she thinks that the person should be on an order and contains information about the person’s diagnosis and background information. You need to have a copy of the clinical report at least 7 days before the hearing in order to go through the report and participate meaningfully in the hearing.
Question – What happens if I do not have the clinical report?
Answer – If you have received no clinical report then the hearing could be adjourned for not more than 28 days.
Question – Can my legal representative assist with changing my medications under the order?
Answer – No. You would have speak with your treating team about it. But you can certainly bring up any concerns with regards to your medications at a Tribunal hearing.
Question – Will my lawyer get my order revoked?
Answer – You should be aware that whilst the Tribunal are independent, they do tend to be conservative, and very rarely revoke Treatment Authorities (approximately 1% of TAs are revoked by the Tribunal, the vast majority are revoked by doctors). This is particularly so on first hearings, when the Treatment Authority has only been recently made.
Question – Are the Tribunal hearings like a court proceeding?
Answer – The MHRT hearings are very informal and go for around 30 minutes. They are not adversarial like a court and are inquisitorial. They are presided by a legal member, community member and medical member. Your treating doctor is there as an expert witness and you can also bring your family members and a nominated support person with you to the hearing.
Question – If I disagree with the diagnosis can I ask for a second opinion?
Answer – Yes under the Mental Health Act 2016 (Qld), you have the right to ask for a second opinion from your treating doctor
Question – My hearing is 6 months away. Can I request an earlier hearing?
Answer – Yes. You can always apply for an earlier hearing by submitting an Applicant Review Form to the Tribunal. Please note that it is better to request an earlier hearing if there has been a substantial change in your circumstances.
Question – I want to know more about what happened at the hearing, how can I access this?
Answer – You can request a statement of reasons after your hearing from the Tribunal. The Tribunal needs to respond within 21 days of receiving the request.
Question – I am not happy with the decision of the Tribunal. Can I appeal?
Answer – You can appeal a decision of the Tribunal to the Mental Health Court.
References: Law Right, Mental Health Law Practice, Advocate Training Manual, 2017