What to expect during your hearing
The reason for a tribunal hearing is so that each party involved in a review can express their concerns.
Most hearings are conducted at the health facility a patient is being treated at. At a hearing you can expect the following people to be present:
- the three-member tribunal panel
- the treating psychiatrist, doctor and medical team
- the lawyer of the person requesting the review
- the applicant's case manager
- requested family, friends or legal guardians or carers
Sometimes other medical professionals or students can be present at hearings as an observer. Hearings are not open to the public.
What happens at the hearing
Any or all of the above people present will have the opportunity to speak at the hearing.
At least one of the panel members, usually an appointed medical professional from another state, will view the case via audiovisual link.
The tribunal will ask questions. This can be to any or all of those present who have spoken with regards to the matter being considered.
If you are the subject of the hearing you have the right not to speak to the tribunal and allow others to speak on your behalf.
After the panel has heard all evidence they will usually adjourn the proceedings to make a decision in private.
This is generally done straight away. When they have made a decision they will call everyone back in to the hearing room to hear their decision.
You can go ahead with a review without legal representation however, legal representation is recommended. You can choose to have your own private lawyer represent you at your own cost, or a government-appointed legal representative.
In some cases the tribunal can appoint you a private lawyer and cover the costs of your representation.
If you are the applicant requesting a review you also have the right to ask not to be present during the hearing. If you don't wish to be present the panel will ask for proof of this. If they are convinced the hearing will go ahead without you.
Privacy of the patient
Everyone who attends the hearing must keep the matter private.
The tribunal members, mental health services staff and legal representatives are all bound by confidentiality and are not permitted to discuss the proceedings with outsiders.
The tribunal’s decision may be told only to people who need to know, such as medical and nursing staff.
Hearings in remote areas
If you live in a remote area your hearing may be heard via audiovisual link or through a telephone conference. Sometimes a patient may be transported by NT Mental Health to the nearest treatment facility for the hearing.