This policy explains the types of information held by the Mental Health Tribunal (the Tribunal) and how we respond when asked to release these records, including:
- access to your personal information
We are required to protect information
The Tribunal is required to protect the privacy of personal information which directly or indirectly identifies a person.
The Tribunal must follow strict secrecy rules in the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 (the Act) about access to information. In most circumstances we can only provide documents or information related to hearings to the patient or their legal representative.
A variety of other laws and principles also regulate the handling of personal and health information. These include standards for information collection, storage, access, transmission, disclosure, use and disposal:
- Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022
- Freedom of Information Act 1982
- Health Records Act 2001
- Information Privacy Act 2000
- Information Privacy Principles (IPP)
- Public Records Act 1973
The Tribunal has a range of procedures to ensure information is stored securely and retained for the period authorised by the Public Records Office Victoria.
Why we collect information?
The Tribunal collects and handles information for the purpose of conducting hearings that are required under the Act.
For example, the Tribunal holds a patient’s name, address and contact details, their status as a compulsory patient and details of their carer and nominated person if this information is recorded by their treating health service.
Information we receive and keep
The Tribunal receives information:
- from health services about patients, their carers and other persons related to Tribunal hearings, and
- directly from patients, their carers and other persons related to Tribunal hearings.
The Tribunal keeps:
- applications and hearing requests from patients, their representatives and treating mental health services
- decisions and statements of reasons of the Tribunal
- decisions of another court or tribunal that hears an appeal against a Tribunal decision.
- the type of hearing
- the name of the person who the hearing is about, and their personal details
- the treating mental health service
- the date and place of a hearing
- the Tribunal members who decided the outcome of a hearing
- the decision of the Tribunal and any Order made by the Tribunal.
We temporarily keep documents sent to and from patients, family members or legal representatives. Temporary documents are kept for seven years.
Information we don’t keep
- We don’t keep a full record of a patient’s compulsory treatment history. The mental health service keeps and maintains this information.
- We don’t keep clinical information unless the case is about neurosurgery for mental illness (NMI).
- Copies of clinical information or other evidence submitted to the Tribunal may be destroyed after the Tribunal has made its final decision.
What we don’t do
The Tribunal does not:
- record hearings, either by video or audio
- receive information from other government agencies
- provide access to identifiable information about individuals for research purposes.
How patients can access information held by us
If you have had a hearing with the Tribunal, you can ask for your information at any time by calling us or writing to us by email or post.
We will not charge you any fees to access your information. Please contact us to request the information you want.
Victoria’s Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) gives you the right to ask for your information. You can learn more about Freedom of Information.
Carers, guardians and nominated persons
The Tribunal is required to notify carers, guardians and nominated persons about Tribunal hearings.
Other information and documents about a patient can only be provided to the patient, their legal representative (with the patient’s consent) or a treating health service.
Patients can give permission for someone else, such as a legal representative, to ask for information on their behalf.
This permission will need to be in writing and signed by the patient.
Subpoena or summons
A subpoena (sometimes referred to as a summons) is a document issued by a Court at the request of a party to a court case. Parties to a civil or criminal proceeding can obtain a subpoena which will require the Tribunal to provide documents named in the subpoena to the Court who issued the subpoena.
If the Tribunal is served with a subpoena, we will produce sealed documents to the Court but may formally object to a party being able to view the documents on the grounds of public interest immunity.
All subpoenas in relation to the Tribunal should be served on the Principal Registrar of the Tribunal, addressed as follows:
Mental Health Tribunal
Level 30, 570 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
You will need to allow at least ten business days for us to respond to the subpoena.
How can you correct information held by the Tribunal?
If you believe a tribunal order or statement of reasons is incorrect, please contact the Tribunal outlining what corrections you think need to be made. The Tribunal cannot correct documents created by mental health services.