No more indefinite detention
A person found not guilty by reason of mental impairment at a criminal trial in the County An independent body that hears legal claims brought by parties and decides between them. Serious cases are heard by a judge and jury, or just a judge. Less-serious cases are heard by a magistrate. or Supreme Court is given a fixed nominal term An order the Children’s Court may impose upon a young person found guilty of an offence. Under this order, the young person will be supervised by a probation officer and will have to obey any other conditions the court imposes upon them. These conditions can be placed on the young person’s parents or persons with whom the young person is living. Also, a supervision order requires a person arguing substantial mental impairment in a serious criminal case to be admitted to a mental institution.. The term of the order is set out in section 28 of the CMIUT A written law made by parliament. Also called an ‘Act of parliament’, ‘statute’ or legislation. – this section must be read in conjunction with the Crimes Act (Vic). A supervision order can be either custodial or non-custodial (s 26 CMIUT Act).
A person who is subject to a supervision order is classified as either a forensic patient under the Mental Health Act 2014 (Vic) (‘MHA 2014’), or as a forensic resident under the Disability Act 2006 (Vic) (‘Disability Act’) (see ‘Intellectual disability’, below).
People who are subject to supervision orders under the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) (‘Crimes Act (Cth)’) are referred to as ‘Commonwealth forensic patients’. Provisions relating to supervision orders for people with an intellectual disability have been added to the Disability Act to ensure that people receive appropriate assistance from intellectual disability services (see Chapter 8.5: Intellectual disability and the law).
Variation and revocation of supervision orders
Under the CMIUT Act, a person who is subject to a supervision order can apply to the court to have the order varied or revoked (i.e. cancelled). In considering an application, the court must be satisfied that ‘the safety of the person subject to the order or members of the public A document that sets out what a person wants to happen to their money and other property after they die. not be seriously endangered’. This test is viewed conservatively, yet is open to challenge by applying section 12 of the Charter (the right to freedom of movement). Each supervision order must be reviewed by a court after a defined nominal term (e.g. 25 years in the case of murder), although a person may apply earlier to the court to have their supervision order varied or revoked.
A person on a custodial supervision order is entitled to apply for leave. The CMIUT Act (pt 7 div 1) sets out procedures for the A document signed by parties ending a court action. The party who began the action agrees to drop it, often in exchange for a payment by the other party. Also called terms of settlement. and the granting of leave to forensic patients and forensic residents. There are four kinds of leave available.
1 Special leave
Applications for special leave must outline the special circumstances for which the leave is required (i.e. up to seven days for medical treatment and up to 24 hours in other cases), which can be granted by the authorised psychiatrist, or the Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
In making a decision about special leave, the psychiatrist must consider whether the safety of members of the public will be seriously endangered. If refused, a person can The review of the decision of a lower court by a higher court. If an appeal is successful, the higher court can change the lower court’s decision. to the Forensic Leave Panel, (established at s 59 CMIUT Act), which is made up of the Chief Psychiatrist or their (1) A person put forward as a candidate for an elected position. (2) A person chosen to act on behalf of someone else. See also agent., an experienced forensic psychiatrist and a community member, and is headed by a Supreme or County Court judge.
2 On-ground leave
On-ground leave allows a A person detained in a mental hospital or institution after being found unfit to stand trial, or found not guilty because of mental illness or intellectual disability. to be absent from the place of Lawful control over a person which prevents them leaving. A person under arrest is in police custody and is not free to go. A person in prison is serving a custodial sentence that keeps them confined to the prison grounds. while remaining within the surrounds. ‘The surrounds’ is ‘an area surrounding or adjacent to an approved mental health Formal delivery of legal documents to a person to tell them there are court proceedings against them which they must defend, or to make sure a witness in a case knows when they have to go to court to give evidence. or a residential service to be the surrounds in relation to that approved mental health service or residential service’ (s 52(2) CMIUT Act). If refused, a person can appeal to the Forensic Leave Panel.
3 Limited off-ground leave
Limited off-ground leave allows a forensic patient or forensic resident to be absent from the place of custody between the hours of 6 am and 9 pm; the person can only be absent for a maximum of three days in a seven-day period (s 53 CMIUT Act). Limited off-ground leave is granted by the Forensic Leave Panel.
The Chief Psychiatrist can suspend special leave, on-ground leave and limited off-ground leave if they believe that the safety of the person or of members of the public will be seriously endangered. (For more information on the role of the Chief Psychiatrist, see Chapter 8.4: Mental illness.)
4 Extended leave
Applications for extended leave can be by people on custodial supervision order. An extended leave order allows the forensic patient to live in the community, with conditions. It can be granted for up to 12 months, and can be granted more than once. The court, on an application by the Chief Psychiatrist, can cancel extended leave at any time if it believes the safety of the person or members of the public are seriously endangered by the person being on leave.
A forensic patient may be transferred to another designated mental health service by the Chief Psychiatrist if it is necessary for the forensic patient’s treatment (s 308(1) MHA 2014). If a patient (subject to a A legally proper instruction by one person (or body) to another, so that the person is bound to take action, or make a decision, as instructed. Compare dictation. made under section 307 or 308 of the MHA 2014) objects to the transfer, an application for review can be made to the Forensic Leave Panel by the patient, the patient’s Someone who is legally responsible for taking care of another person or their property. or the Secretary of the DHHS (‘DHHS Secretary’) within 20 business days after the direction is made (s 310(1), (2) MHA 2014). The Forensic Leave Panel must, as soon as practicable after an application for a review is received, hear and determine the application (s 310(3) MHA 2014).
If the Forensic Leave Panel is not satisfied that the transfer of the forensic patient to another designated mental health service is necessary for that person’s treatment, it must grant the application (s 310(5)(a) MHA 2014). Alternatively, the Forensic Leave Panel may refuse the application if it determines that such a transfer is necessary for the patient’s treatment (s 310(5)(b) MHA 2014).
A forensic patient can request a transfer and may invoke section 12 of the Charter (the right to freedom of movement) to support their application. The transfer of forensic patients detained under the Crimes Act (Cth) needs approval by the Commonwealth Attorney-General (s 308(2) MHA 2014).
Interstate transfer of forensic patients
Under the CMIUT Act, a Victorian forensic patient can be transferred to a participating state if:
- the Chief Psychiatrist certifies in writing that the transfer is beneficial to that person;
- the relevant Victorian Government minister is satisfied the transfer is permitted under a corresponding law in the participating state;
- the relevant Victorian Government minister is satisfied that the person subject to the order has given their When a person freely agrees to a procedure with full understanding of what it involves, and knowing about any risks. For example, a patient can give informed consent to surgery after a surgeon explains the risks involved. to the transfer; or
- if the person subject to the order is unable to give To agree to something being done, to approve an action or arrangement. See also informed consent., the relevant Victorian Government minister is satisfied that the person’s guardian has given informed consent to the transfer (s 73D).
Under the CMIUT Act (s 73D), a forensic patient can be transferred from a participating state to Victoria if:
- the transfer is permitted under a corresponding law in the participating state;
- the relevant Victorian Government minister has agreed to the transfer (s 73E(1));
- the Chief Psychiatrist has certified in writing that the transfer is for the person’s benefit, and there are suitable facilities available for the custody, care or treatment of that person, as the case requires;
- the relevant Victorian Government minister is satisfied the transfer is necessary for the Money paid to a person to financially support them. When a couple has separated both parents have a duty to support their children, and a court can order a parent to make regular payments to support the children. Maintenance for a spouse is now less common, and must be applied for within 12 months of a divorce. It is usually covered in a final settlement of all property. or re-establishment of family relationships, or relationships with the person’s critical support person(s);
- the relevant Victorian Government minister is satisfied that the person has given their informed consent to the transfer, or if incapable of giving consent, that their guardian gives informed consent (s 73E(2));
- the relevant Victorian Government minister determines that the person is detained in an appropriate place, as if the person were subject to a custodian supervision order; and
- the person is absent on leave from an appropriate place, determined by the relevant Victorian Government minister, on any conditions determined by that minister, as if the person was subject to a custodial supervision order, and had been granted extended leave (s 73E(3)).
An ‘appropriate place’ is defined in section 3 of the CMIUT Act as ‘a designated mental health service, a residential treatment facility, or a residential institution’.
Apprehension and transfer of forensic patients who abscond interstate
Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria are the only states and territories to have reached ministerial agreement about the apprehension and transfer of forensic patients who have absconded interstate. The law in this area is complicated and may change. For more information, contact the Mental Health Legal Centre (see ‘Contacts’ at the end of this chapter).
Emergency apprehension of people subject to a non-custodial supervision order
Section 30 of the CMIUT Act provides for the emergency apprehension of people who are subject to a non-custodial supervision order.
People who have the power to apprehend those on an emergency apprehension order are:
- the person supervising the order;
- a police officer;
- an ambulance officer;
- a person who is a member of a prescribed class, as defined in the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Regulations 2009 (Vic); these regulations expand the list of people who can carry out an emergency apprehension order to:
- registered medical practitioners, nurses and psychologists,
- social workers and occupational therapists employed by an approved public mental health service or a community mental health service.