Community treatment order dispute

M v Mental Health Review Tribunal & Ors [2015] NSWSC 1876 saw the Court consider an appeal (by a self-represented litigant) against a community treatment order for the administration of anti-psychotic medication.

The Court outlined the statutory preconditions to the making of a community treatment order (at [25]), mental health legislation and medical evidence.

At [64] the Court held that no other care of a kind less restrictive than depot injections of anti-psychotic medication, that is consistent with safe and effective care, was appropriate and reasonably available to the plaintiff. The community treatment order was therefore confirmed.

At [69] – [71] the Protective List judge noted:

The common law has an entrenched concern for the protection of civil liberties in the provision of medical treatment. The norm is that a prerequisite for the medical treatment of an individual is a need for the individual’s consent to that treatment: Rogers v Whitaker (1992) 175 CLR 479 at 498. Forced medical treatment is exceptional; but, subject to procedural safeguards, permissible when justified by necessities recognised by the law: Harry v Mental Health Review Tribunal (1994) 33 NSWLR 315 at 322D-323B, 332G-333F and 334B-335D; Z v Mental Health Review Tribunal [2015] NSWCA 373 at [35]; A (by his Tutor Brett Collins) v Mental Health Review Tribunal (No. 4) [2014] NSWSC 31 at [124]-[125]. Each case must be decided on its own facts and by reference to the governing law (in this case, the Mental Health Act, particularly sections 51, 53, 163 and 164).

Although the plaintiff has a strong conviction that the administration of anti-psychotic medication is, at best, a placebo and, at worst, itself a cause of mental illness, the evidence before the Court demonstrates that he has need of such medication; administered in a regular way, it works beneficially upon his health and, absent regular administration of it, his health is adversely affected.

It is in these circumstances, and finding that the plaintiff suffers from a mental illness that impairs his judgement, I conclude that he is a person in respect of whom the Community Treatment Order under appeal should be made.

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