Australian mental health tribunals-'Space' for rights, protection, treatment and governance?

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Journal Article
International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 2012, 35 (1), pp. 1 - 10
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This paper draws on a multi-year Australian collaborative study of mental health review tribunals ('MHTs') in three jurisdictions (Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory) undertaken in conjunction with the NSW Law and Justice Foundation, using qualitative and quantitative methods to examine the role of MHTs in advancing goals such as fairness, legality and access to treatment. Study findings regarding stakeholder and client concerns - about access to quality treatment and associated support services, review of treatment adequacy and drug regimes, and their 'participation' or dignity of engagement in review processes - are presented as variants of the need for adequate hearing 'space': temporal, jurisdictional, cognate/relational, physical and symbolic, and 'connective'. Building on earlier arguments for MHTs to engage not only legal, but also clinical and social domains, and for adopting some processes more characteristic of case-conferencing, this paper examines the implications of tribunal 'flexibility' and a wider overall 'governance' jurisdiction in mental health. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
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