Reviews by the tribunal
The Mental Health Review Tribunal conducts regular independent reviews of forensic patients—people who have been detained in an authorised mental health service or, in some cases, high security unit for treatment or care under a forensic order.
The tribunal can discharge the patient, approve limited community treatment and order the patient’s transfer to another hospital or removal from Queensland.
In conducting its review and making these decisions, the tribunal considers factors including the patient’s treatment, security needs and community safety.
Reviewing fitness for trial
When the Mental Health Court decides an alleged offender is temporarily unfit for trial, the Mental Health Review Tribunal reviews them every 3 months for the first 12 months. After 12 months, reviews are conducted every 6 months.
Proceedings are discontinued if they remain unfit for trial for three years. This is extended to seven years if they’re charged with offences carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The criminal proceedings continue if the person becomes fit for trial.
Reviewing soundness of mind
When the Mental Health Court makes a forensic order because the alleged offender was of unsound mind at the time of the alleged offence or is permanently unfit for trial, the Mental Health Review Tribunal reviews the patient’s mental condition within six months of the order and then at least every six months.
These reviews are in addition to regular monitoring of the person’s mental condition, which occurs as part of their ongoing treatment.
Proceedings are discontinued if the alleged offender was found to be of unsound mind at the time of the offence. However, they may apply to go to trial by filing a Form 12 - Notice of election to go to trial or to the Attorney-General.
Limited community treatment
The tribunal (or Mental Health Court) can order limited community treatment, enabling the person to live in the community with active monitoring by a mental health service. Levels of treatment can include being escorted on the grounds of the hospital; escorted off the hospital grounds; day leave; overnight leave and more than overnight leave.
Keeping the community safe
The court and tribunal must grant limited community treatment only when the patient isn’t a risk to their or the public’s safety. Additionally, the court or tribunal must consider the patient’s mental state, psychiatric history, social circumstances, response to treatment and willingness to continue, as well as each offence leading to them become a forensic patient.
They must also consider whether to order a condition that a patient not contact a victim or other specified person. If the patient breaches any condition, the court or tribunal can revoke limited community treatment and have police return them to the mental health facility.
Ending a forensic order
The Mental Health Review Tribunal is the only body (except on appeal to the Mental Health Court or Court of Appeal) that can revoke a forensic order, and only once a strict test is passed.
The tribunal must consider the patient’s mental state, psychiatric history, social circumstances, response to treatment and willingness to continue, as well as each offence leading to them becoming a forensic patient.
Being notified of a review
The Mental Health Review Tribunal may order that someone with sufficient personal interest, such as a victim of crime or a patient’s family member, be notified of hearing dates and decisions made about a forensic patient.
To be notified of hearing dates and decisions, apply to the tribunal for a Forensic Patient Information Order. Contact the Mental Health Review Tribunal for more information. When they make a decision whether or not to make the order, they will contact you with the reasons.
Help for victims of crime
A victim of crime, or a concerned person, can submit a statement to the Mental Health Court via a sworn affidavit to the Director of Public Prosecutions. This statement may be subject to a confidentiality order by the court. Read how to make this statement.
A court may also make a non-contact order relating to the victim or concerned person.
There are several support services you might like to contact, depending on your need:
- The Queensland Health Victim Support Service is a state-wide service which provides assistance for victims of offences committed by people who are identified as having a mental illness.
- The Victim Support Unit has a dedicated group of professionally supported volunteers called Victim Support Unit Networkers who can help you before, during and after court proceedings.
- The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions also employs victim liaison officers to help victims of violent crimes and their family members.