COVID-19 Response

COVID-19 Response

Updated 26 March 2021

The Mental Health Review Tribunal is deemed an essential service and will continue to function throughout the epidemic. Changes were introduced to the Mental Health Act (Section 202) on 25 March 2020 for a period of 12 months and  were repealed on 26 March 2021.

A staged return to face-to-face hearings is anticipated to take place during the vaccination phase of the pandemic. During this period, some hearings will continue to be conducted partly or entirely via audio-visual link up.

IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON TRIBUNAL HEARINGS

In response to the pandemic, the Tribunal made some changes to its hearing processes to help to prevent the spread of the virus and to  ensure the health and safety of consumers, treating teams, Tribunal members and Tribunal staff. We also acknowledge that the pandemic has impacted on the way in which consumers engage with their usual supports, including family members, carers and mental health clinicians.

The Tribunal remains committed to ensuring that each consumer’s care and treatment is provided in accordance with the Mental Health Act 2007 (MHA) and the Mental Health and Cognitive Impairment Forensic Provisions Act 2020.

The Tribunal is constantly reviewing the need for these changes and will scale them back in a staged program. During the vaccination phase of the COVID pandemic, the Tribunal expects that:

  • Some Tribunal hearings will continue to be held partly or entirely by video rather than face to face.
  • For some Tribunal hearings, at least one member of the Tribunal will be sitting at a separate venue.
  • Lawyers may also be participating by video link from a separate location and taking instructions by phone.

CIVIL JURISDICTION

s202 of the MHA was repealed on 26 March 2021 with the following impact:

  • Mental health inquiries reverted to  'up to 14 days' for consumers to be brought before the Tribunal
  • Existing CTOs may no longer be extended for 3 months without a hearing. 
  • Mental health inquiries may no longer be adjourned for up to 28 days (rather than 14 days).

These changes do not affect:

  • The treating team’s ongoing obligation to discharge you from the mental health facility if you are no longer mentally ill or mentally disordered.
  • Your right to appeal to the Tribunal for discharge if that has been refused by the  mental health facility. 
  • The Director’s obligation (of  the community mental health service)  to revoke the CTO if of the view that you would not continue to benefit from the order.
  • Your right to seek a variation or revocation of a CTO, if there has been a change in circumstances or new information since the making of the order.

The Mental Health Advocacy Service (MHAS) may be able to assist you in exercising your rights and can be contacted on 9745-4277.

FORENSIC JURISDICTION

All forensic hearings have resumed. No further changes apply.

This page will be updated with changes to Tribunal practice in response to COVID-19.