“Mental health advocates hope a case in Victoria’s Supreme Court will provide vital guidance about the decision-making power of mental health tribunals across the country,” reports Australia’s ABC News. The case involves a “Patient X” who was involuntarily admitted for psychiatric treatment in 2013, won her legal appeal before a tribunal and was released, and then was simply incarcerated again and forcibly treated by a psychiatrist within hours of winning her appeal.
“What we’re concerned about is that just a matter of hours later, the treating team said, ‘No sorry, we’re not going to follow that decision of the review board. We’re going to make you involuntary again,'” a lawyer told ABC News.
The acting director of the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council, Liz Carr, “said mental health review tribunals are a crucial check and balance for patients who have been ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment,” reports ABC News. “She said it is troubling that their decisions can be simply ignored.”
According to ABC News, only 6 per cent of appeals before the tribunals ever result in discharges. “So if we lose the oversight body, we’re all at risk,” said Carr.
Advocates and legal experts said there was a legal “vacuum” and lack of clarity around the country with respect to legal attempts to challenge involuntary psychiatric treatment.
Victoria’s Supreme Court ruling on Patient X case to determine limits of mental health boards’ power (ABC News, October 7, 2014)