The role of the Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT) is to ensure that the processes associated with the involuntary assessment, treatment and detention of a person with a mental illness are appropriately applied.
Historically, the MHRT has not recorded its proceedings (hearings). This has been an area of ongoing advocacy by the Public Advocate.
The recording of MHRT hearings is important because it improves the transparency and accountability around what happens in hearings. In the absence of recorded proceedings, there are no proper records about what occurs in hearings. This prevents people from raising their concerns about hearing processes.
The MHRT has significant powers to approve the involuntary treatment and detention of people with mental illness. These powers need to be exercised in a transparent way, while protecting people’s confidentiality.
In 2020, the MHRT trialed the recording of hearings as part of its Electronic Audio Recording of Hearings Trial. Click here to access information about the trial, including the final report.
Following the trial, the MHRT agreed in principle to proceed with the audio recording of hearings. This has now been followed by work on the development of policies and procedures to support the implementation of electronic audio recordings.
In August 2021, the MHRT advised the Public Advocate that there remain some outstanding issues to be resolved; including who will be lawfully permitted to receive a record of proceedings; when typed transcripts of proceedings may be required; the fees for obtaining recordings and transcripts; and whether and how those fees may be waived.
The Public Advocate is continuing to work with the MHRT and other stakeholders to support the commencement of electronic recording of Tribunal proceedings.