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The Forensic Disability System in Queensland

The Forensic Disability System operating in Queensland is governed under the Mental Health Act 2016, the Forensic Disability Act 2011, and the Disability Services Act 2006.

When a person with impaired decision-making ability is charged with a criminal offence, a person’s ability to stand trial can be assessed by a psychiatrist.

Depending on this assessment and the type of offence, a person can:

  • have the charges against them dismissed
  • have the charges heard in a regular court or,
  • have the matter referred to the Mental Health Court if the person is assessed to be unfit for trial

The Mental Health Court determines a person’s entry into the forensic disability system in Queensland.

If a person is referred to the Mental Health Court, the person can be issued with a forensic order (disability) by the Mental Health Court which involves;

  • detention in the Forensic Disability Service
  • detention in an Authorised Mental Health Facility or,
  • involuntary treatment while remaining in the community

The Mental Health Court can also discontinue the proceedings against the person without a forensic order being made.

Once issued to a person, a forensic order can only be revoked when reviewed by the Mental Health Review Tribunal, or following an appeal to the Mental Health Court.

The Public Advocate has identified and is working on several issues associated with the operation of the forensic disability system in Queensland including:

  • how the criminal justice system treats people with impaired decision-making ability
  • ensuring that the rights of people with impaired decision-making ability who are detained in the forensic system are upheld and,
  • monitoring the operation of the Mental Health Review Tribunal.