Involvement of Registered Victims
The Forensic Patient Victim Register
The Mental Health Act 2007 provides for the establishment and use of a victims register by the Tribunal, and for the notification of registered victims of Tribunal proceedings and determinations in relation to forensic patients.
A person who is a victim of an act of violence or, in the case where the victim has died as a result of the act of violence, a member of the victim’s immediate family is eligible to register on the Forensic Patient Victim Register.
Family members of the person who has died as a result of the act of violence who are able to register are:
- the victim’s spouse
- de facto partner (including of the same sex) who has cohabited with the victim for at least 2 years
- parent, guardian, or step parent of the victim
- child or step child of the victim or some other child of whom the victim is the guardian
- brother, sister, half brother, half sister, step brother or step sister of the victim
You will stop being a registered victim when the:
- forensic patient has been unconditionally released; or
- forensic patient’s Limiting Term has expired (whichever comes first).
Your rights as a Registered Victim
The Charter of Victims Rights under the Victim's Rights and Support Act 2013 sets out the rights of a victim. In particular, 6.15 of the charter states that:
A victim will, on request, be kept informed of the offender’s impending release or escape from custody, or of any change in security classification that results in the offender being eligible for unescorted absence from custody.
The Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act 1990 provides that registered victims can apply to the Tribunal for a non association and/or geographical restriction to be attached to an order granting a forensic patient leave or release.
If you are on the Forensic Patient Victims Register maintained by the Mental Health Review Tribunal you can elect to be notified about:
- All Tribunal hearings for the patient
- Tribunal hearings where leave or release is being applied for
- Tribunal determinations relating to an application for leave or release
- A forensic patient’s escape from custody
- When the person’s status as a forensic patient ends.
A request for a non-association or place restriction condition can be made at any time. Written submissions received by the Tribunal will be considered at any future application for the grant of leave or release to the forensic patient. A copy of the written submission will be provided to the forensic patient’s legal representative and may also be provided to the patient’s treating team.
Registered victims can also request to have non-association or place restriction conditions varied as their circumstances change.
Attendance at Tribunal hearings is not compulsory. The Tribunal will consider any written submissions requesting a non-association or place restriction condition to be attached to any grant of leave or release of a forensic patient and will inform the registered victim(s) in writing of the Tribunal’s determination.
Where a registered victim(s) chooses to attend a hearing at which an application is being made for the forensic patient to be granted leave or release, the registered victim(s) must contact the Tribunal at least seven days before the hearing to advise and confirm arrangements for attendance.
Under the Mental Health Act, your right to participate in a hearing is limited to outlining any request for a non-association or place restriction condition. Registered victims do not have a right to legal representation before the Tribunal and cannot cross-examine any other person appearing before the Tribunal.
Registered victims generally participate in hearings by video-link or telephone as most hearings are held in high-secure facilities with limited public access. Every effort is made to set up hearing rooms and video equipment so that the registered victim and forensic patient cannot see each other.
The Tribunal cannot provide legal advice, change a Court’s ruling in relation to the forensic patient, or provide details about the forensic patient (such as medical details or the forensic patient’s address).
The Tribunal can provide general information about the various stages of a forensic patient’s pathway.
More detailed information about the Victims Register is contained in the Information for Victims brochure.
To join the Victims Register please complete a registration form and return it to the Tribunal. Further information can be obtained from the Team Leader or Principal Forensic Officer, Forensic Unit - Telephone: 9816 5955.
A Fact Sheet 'Mental Illness and Serious Crime' has been developed by the Tribunal and the Victims Services Branch of the NSW Attorney General's Department. This sheet explains how a person who has committed an offence can be found not guilty by reason of mental illness in the criminal justice system in NSW. It also provides other information which may be of interest to victims of serious crime. This fact sheet can be viewed by clicking on the following link: Mental Illness and Serious Crime.
Breach of conditions of leave or release
The President or a Deputy President may issue an order for the apprehension and detention of a forensic patient where it appears that the person has breached a condition of their leave or release. The Tribunal will usually become aware of breaches of the conditions of leave or release after being informed by the treating team responsible for the patient’s care.
However, a member of the public can also report a possible breach of conditions of leave or release by calling the Tribunal on 9816 5955 and asking to speak to a Principal Forensic Officer or by emailing email@example.com.
If you have an immediate concern for your safety, you should contact the Police.