BLOOMFIELD Hospital Macquarie Unit clinical director and consultant psychiatrist Dr Nicholas Burns says the majority of cases, where a person has been found not guilty due to mental illness, are managed by the Mental Health Review Tribunal.
“Offending histories are taken into account when making decisions related to the ongoing treatment, detention and care of people in this circumstance,” he said.
“The tribunal’s primary responsibility is not to make release decisions if it puts the community at risk and the tribunal has all the information about the person’s history when making these decisions.”
Dr Burns said promoting rehabilitation and recovery was an important goal of any world-class mental health system.
“When it comes to forensic patients, these aspirations and steps are carefully managed, with rights afforded to any victims that may have an ongoing interest in the person’s movements within the community,” he said.
“For example, tight restrictions can be imposed to ensure there is no contact with people with a material interest or concern related to the reintegration process.”
Dr Burns said only forensic patients who had been thoroughly and repeatedly assessed were considered for community activities.
“While admitted to a mental health unit, all clients have their medication supervised and monitored by nursing staff,” he said.
“Patients under the supervision of the Mental Health Review Tribunal, including involuntary patients and forensic patients, must comply with their medications and all other treatments.”
He said the Mental Health Tribunal had the power to impose stronger sanctions if someone was suspected of not complying with their treatment.
The Mental Health Tribunal and the Mental Health Council of Australia were contacted by the Central Western Daily and asked to respond to concerns surrounding forensic mental health patients training in the community.