The Minister for Mental Health, the Hon Tanya Davies MP, requested NSW Health review (the Review) the operation of the Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT) regarding forensic patients. This is the Commission's submission in response to the discussion paper.
The Commission submits that the current practices and processes of the MHRT are generally appropriate. The Commission supports efforts that would assist matters to be considered in a timely way, and mechanisms that would minimise the negative effect that hearings can have on victims and forensic patients.
Legislative arrangements regarding Tribunal decisions for leave and release appropriately balance the needs of forensic patients while ensuring the safety of the community, including victims, however, the Commission supports the call for the removal of the requirement for the Tribunal to consider whether a forensic patient subject to a limiting term has spent ‘sufficient time in custody’ prior to ordering release.
While victims in forensic matters are able to access victim support services in the same way as other victims, complexities arise in forensic matters, requiring additional support over and above the standard services available.
The Commission supports the establishment of a working group to develop a framework for cross-agency supervision and support of forensic patients.