History of Attempts to Visit Saeed Dezfouli
20th April 2009
Report provided to mental health legal representative, who was told to wait three weeks to gain approval to visit:
“We've followed this up and contacted the Forensic Hospital.
The position is:
The 3 week period you mentioned can be substantially shortened if requested. In particular, anyone who has been permitted by DCS to visit a patient in the old prison hospital will automatically be permitted to visit the patient in the Forensic Hospital. Although it is not relevant to you because you have been previously approved, the sole criteria they use to assess whether someone should visit is whether the visit is 'in the clinical best interests of the patient'. To determine that, amongst other things they will ask the patient whether they want to see the visitor.
Visits take place from Monday to Sunday. Allotted times are:
9.30 - 10.30
11 - 12
1.30 - 2.30
There are 5 wards and one person is permitted to visit in each ward during each allotment of time.
Once you are approved as a visitor you need to book a time the day before to enable the guards on the front gate to be aware of your intended visit;”
1st June 2009
Email to the Clinical Director of the Forensic Hospital, from concerned Mental Health consumer representative:
“I am having some resistance getting into see Saeed Dezfouli.
I made the initial request to the new hospital for an access visit back in early April and have called Saeed's ward weekly for an update on 9700 3386.
Each time [the ward clerk] has answered the phone with a similar response - As late as this morning I was once again told that security is still waiting on something before they will allow me access
Can you help?”
29th July 2009
In an email from JA intern, Lucy, to Brett:
“The ward clerk, Sylvia, returned my call this afternoon and I haven't been given authorisation to visit Saeed tomorrow. She said that they're opening a new ward tomorrow and so security is flat out and the paperwork wasn't done in time. She said your still booked in for tomorrow, but I can't come with you.
Disappointing, but maybe next time.”
Lucy was never granted permission for a regular visit to Saeed, gaining access to a MHRT hearing only.
Log of Attempts to Visit Saeed Dezfouli by JA intern, Chaz:
3rd March 2010
Chaz phoned the General Hospital and spoke with Angela (Nurse Coordinator), who forwarded him to Security in order to “be provided with adequate first time visitation steps.” She also had another staff member call back regarding visiting Saeed, but said staff also forwarded the request to the Security Office.
4th March 2010
Chaz called again, after getting no return call or answers. This time, he spoke with Steve in Security, who provided Chaz basic visitation information for first-time visits. Chaz was unable to get in contact with Silvia in the Clovelly Ward in order to obtain specific information in regards to visiting Saeed.
The information that Steve provided is summarised as:
1. All visitors must go through security check: retina scan and fingerprint;
2. Must bring proper (100 points) of legal identification: passport, drivers license, and one
additional photo identification or birth certificate;
3. Security check can be done on the same day as visit (even for first time visitors).
5th March 2010
Chaz contacted the Clovelly Ward Main line and finally got a hold of Silvia. The Ward Clerk Silvia is one of the staff in charge of processing visitation requests. She took his name, date of birth, and visitation information (i.e. proposed times to visit), and submitted it for approval. She told Chaz it would only take 1-2 days before she would contact him to confirm.
10th March 2010
At 3:30pm, Chaz called Silvia again in the Clovelly Ward to follow up on the request to visit (5th March 2010). At the time, the only information she was able to provide was that she submitted Chaz's request to the Security Manager (name unknown) and that she had informed him to please contact Chaz on the 10th March 2010 with an answer.
Chaz waited until 5:30pm. He received no call back.
11th March 2010
After no call back on the 10th of March, Chaz called Silvia again at 12:35pm on the 11th of March. After calling over eight times over a period of one week, she finally informed him that, though she is not the final decision-maker, she had submitted my requests along with eight other names and three came back with no answer. Chaz's name was included in that list.
Most of the requests were not approved, and so she assumed that Chaz's would not be accepted either. Silvia told Chaz that she would call the Security Manager again.
12th March 2010
*Final Day of Process*
At 12:51pm, Chaz received clear confirmation regarding his previously lodged request to visit Saeed: Roman, one of the Head Officers in Security, called on the 12th March to speak to Chaz about his visitation request.
Roman had contacted Chaz to confirm that his request to visit Saeed had been denied as a professional visit for Saeed because there was no reason for his visit.
Chaz told Roman that he considered himself as a friend of Saeed, and that Silvia, the ward clerk, had told him that she would process it as a “professional visit” because it would go through the process “quicker.”
Roman did not seem interested in anything Chaz had to say, and he asked Chaz a few questions:
1. How did Chaz know Saeed?
2. What did Chaz do with Justice Action?
3. Why would Chaz like to visit Saeed?
Chaz told Roman that, since he had been with Justice Action, he'd been in contact with Saeed. Roman said that, since Chaz was accompanying Brett Collins (Justice Action coordinator), the visit would be correctly classified as a professional visit. He reminded Chaz that Saeed was located in a maximum-security mental facility, and that they do not just allow any individual to visit. He said that, since Chaz was not a physical friend of Saeed as he had not physically met him, Chaz would therefore be rejected as a Friend.
* However, the friend is defined (Dictionary.com) as:
Friend - A person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard, a person who gives assistance.
After that, Chaz contacted Silvia to ask why she had misinformed him by telling him that she would process it as a “professional visit” knowing that it would be rejected:
Silvia informed Chaz that, because his contact information concerns Justice Action and he is working with Brett Collins (and would be visiting with him), it does classify as a professional visit.
In asking her why it couldn’t be processed as a "friend visit," and Silvia informed Chaz that friend visits were usually only approved for relatives and close friends who had known Saeed before he was incarcerated.
Chaz reminded Sylvia that Saeed had been incarcerated for 8 years, so how could they really make that clear distinction? Sylvia told Chaz that she does not make the rules and had tried her best to help me.
3rd June 2010
At 3:30pm, Chaz called Sylvia in the Clovelly Ward, to ask a few questions:
1. What is the process of appealing the visitation decision that was made by Roman in the security office?
2. Who does the appeal application go to and how can I resubmit my application to visit Saeed?
3. How long will the appeal process take and what is the contact email address to send/receive updated information
of my report?
In the first conversation that Chaz had with Sylvia on the 3rd June 2010, she mentioned that during this process of appeal, she would “re-submit” Chaz's visitation application and this time note that he is a student (Criminal Justice major), requesting to visit in to observe the facility and speak with Saeed since he works with the organisation (Justice Action) who supports him.
Sylvia then gave him an address to forward to Brett and an “Appeal Letter” was sent, but Chaz was not given the email address or contact number of the person who will review this document.
The only information Sylvia provided Chaz with was that Roman (the Security Manager) would view his re-submitted application to visit Saeed.
Chaz reported this to Brett (Justice Action coordinator), who then spoke to Sylvia himself.
During Chaz's second conversation with Sylvia on the 3rd of June 2010, she told Chaz that she would be in contact with Brett regarding this process, since he is the designated primary carer of Saeed, and the person with whom Chaz will be visiting with.
The conversation concluded there.
8th June 2010
Chaz had yet to hear from Sylvia regarding the re-submission or application of the appeal for visitation rights to Saeed Dezfouli.
In a meeting at the Justice Health Administration offices between Brett Collins, the Statewide Director of Forensic Mental Health, and the Clinical Director of Forensic and Long Bay Hospitals:
“that Saeed got the benefit from his social support, had been isolated, and that… it had been useful for communication.”
9th June 2010
In response to an email sent by Brett Collins (8th June 2010) addressing issues in permission for visitation for JA interns, Chaz and Helen, Adrian Keller replied:
“In relation to your specific request that Chaz and Helen be approved for visiting Saeed this Friday, that is not going to be possible within the timeframe available. If approval has not previously been granted for these persons, the factors that determine whether visits from specific persons can proceed are complex, and relate to factors in the patient as well as the prospective visitors. The treating team will consider all requests for visits…”
Brett replied with a request to:
“direct us to the NSW Health Policy Directive that governs the issue of community access and visist to mental health patients please?”
“In terms of policy, I am not aware of a NSW Health policy that deals with community access and visits for mental health patients”
JA intern Helen called Clovelly ward that afternoon to submit her details and request for visiting rights.
Neither Chaz, nor Helen, ever visited Saeed.
9th August 2010
Dr Bruce Westmore, forensic psychiatrist and former Director of Forensic Psychiatry for Queensland, requested permission to visit Saeed to provide an external examination and, although known to the hospital, having been there in the past, approval was not granted.
Further requests were made on the 10th and 11th of August 2010.
24th August 2010
Adrian Keller contacted the JA solicitor in response to emails from JA, the JA solicitor, in addition to four phone messages left for him over a period of two weeks.
25th August 2010
In a follow-up email from Brett to Dr Keller:
“You told us that one of your procedures is to check registration of all attending practitioners and that Dr Westmore did not appear on the digital version of the medical registration list. You said that confirmation was requested but not received in time for the visit, and in fact has not still been received.
That explanation is totally inconsistent with the facts. Dr Westmore wrote to our solicitor and the Crown Solicitor on the same day as he was not permitted to enter. He detailed his attempts to get your permission and contacts on Monday 9/8, the Tuesday 10/8 and Wednesday 11/8 in the letter attached again, that I sent you again early last week. In fact no reason for blocking the visit was provided until a week after the arranged visit. And then it was spurious.
Dr Westmore’s office assures us that no discussion about entitlement to enter occurred until Dr Keller rang questioning Dr Westmore’s registration last Wednesday 18/8, a week after the visit was intended. They received a call from Dr Keller on Wednesday last week about this matter. He said there is a new procedure regarding national registration and accreditation for medical practitioners and that is why Dr Westmore was not able to see Saeed on 11 August.
Your digital enquiry also was wrong. We have attached Westmore’s registration here, downloadable from the website, referred to below. It just rolled over from the previous arrangement as is shown by the other attachment from the website. He has been into the prisons constantly as an examining psychiatrist without any question before.
We are most concerned at your blocking this professional visit which is necessary for Saeed’s Supreme Court appeal currently pending. We ask for an immediate explanation for how this most serious breach of your obligations has occurred, why you haven’t dealt with this expeditiously when you first became aware of it, and why you haven’t documented your justification and ignored the emails which have been asking you for an explanation.”
Response from Dr Keller:
“My information suggests that the initial request for Dr Westmore to attend the Forensic Hospital was received by one of our ward clerks on the morning of Tuesday 10/8, the day prior to the proposed visit. Within a few hours, I was made aware of this request and explained to the ward clerk that I would need to verify that Dr Westmore is currently a registered medical practitioner and ascertain whether there are any conditions attached to the registration.
I proceeded immediately to check for details of Dr Westmore's registration on the AHPRA website. I could find no evidence from my search. At no stage did I make the assumption that Dr Westmore is not a currently registered medical practitioner, nor did I express that view to anyone. Indeed, I made the comment to all parties concerned throughout this exchange that I feel certain that Dr Westmore is currently registered, and would be glad to receive confirmation of the same…
… I have email confirmation that the ward clerk spoke to Dr Westmore's secretary on more than one occasion, explained our procedure and the fact that we had been unable to verify his current registration based on our search of the APHRA database. The secretary replied, on August 11, with words to the effect of "not to worry about chasing this up as Bruce probably couldn't get involved in this case as he was going away."
I heard no more of the matter, but because I was anxious to ensure that the matter was being followed up, I rang Dr Westmore's office on August 18, and left a voice message reiterating our position - that we were waiting for the supply of evidence to verify current medical registration, and once that had been received there would be no impediment to his attending the Forensic Hospital…
…Until your email this evening, I had received no correspondence that addressed the key issue - the verification of Dr Westmore's medical registration. Having reviewed the material you sent me, and having subsequently returned to the AHPRA website, I now understand how this piece of information eluded my search….
…I trust that you can now see how I was, legitimately, not able to verify Dr Westmore's registration.
I am now able to confirm, having verified the information required, that Dr Westmore is approved by Justice Health to attend the Forensic Hospital to assess Mr Dezfouli.
I acknowledge that the delay in approving Dr Westmore's access has been regrettable…"
26th August 2010
A summary email from Brett to JA solicitors:
“Hi Saeed’s lawyers,
We now have it clearly. Judith’s email is underneath and Westmore’s letter is attached.
* Not only did Keller wrongly check the register although he did the job all the time, yet one of our workers got it right first time,
* he accepted his mistake as excluding a highly esteemed psychiatrist,
* contrary to the fact that the psychiatrist was regularly visiting and
* involving the patient who is challenging their treatment before the Supreme Court in the first challenge to their powers
* Delegated to an unnamed ward clerk the followup to the doctor’s secretary despite he was refusing the visit
* Refused to supply the reason for the refusal for permission until Keller spoke with Rob Byrd 24/8, despite the Westmore letter to the Crown Solicitor on 11/8, three voicemail messages from Rob and me, as well as emails to him and Dr Basson asking why Westmore was refused.
* Lied about the timing of the initial enquiry for the visit by Westmore’s secretary, what was said to her, and the followup – see her statement underneath.
Can we have that discussion with Graham Turnbull now please? I am available at any time and am happy to talk with him myself if it isn’t convenient for others.
It clearly is urgent and we must ensure they don’t think that it isn’t acceptable to us for them to assault people, exploit the patient’s legal status for their own benefit and power, consider themselves unanswerable to the law, reject health support to which the patient is entitled, make mistakes and then lie to cover them up. “
4th May 2011
In an email from JA to Adrian Keller:
“Saeed and I have asked Doctor Yola Lucire to examine Saeed in the next few days.
Would you please notify the Forensic Hospital to expect her approach and that she has your approval for entry.
Please acknowledge this on receipt.”
10th May 2011
The response from Dr Adrian Keller:
“Upon receiving the request, I consulted with Mr Dezfouli's treating team, who knew nothing of this request.
Further to this, Mr Dezfouli was asked about whether he had made this request himself, or even knew about the request. It is a Justice Health requirement that patients must consent to having an independent psychiatric assessment conducted by an external medical practitioner, where that request has not originated from the treating team.
Mr Dezfouli indicated to his treating team that, in his opinion, this assessment occurred a year ago, and he was no longer seeking an independent psychiatric assessment.
I would suggest that you discuss the matter further with Mr Dezfouli, prior to approaching the treating team with any request for an independent psychiatric assessment. The request will then be forwarded to me for consideration. Please note that Mr Dezfouli has already, or will be shortly, transferring from Clovelly to Dee Why and will thus be under the care of a different treating team.”
In an email from Brett:
"I have just spoken with Saeed and he assures that at no time has he said that he is no longer seeking an independent psychiatric assessment. To the contrary. He is very unhappy with his treatment as he has said many times, and wants a proper reassessment. Of course I consulted with Saeed and he asked me to make the approaches on his behalf.
You will have noticed that I said that "Saeed and I have asked Dr Lucire to examine him" in my email last Wednesday. I would have been misleading you if that were not true. I don't behave in that way. Please institute an inquiry and let me know how this mistake has occurred. It is important for the credibility of your staff.
We remember the problem you had with Dr Westmore's access to Saeed, and the access problem you had with lawyers from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre to visit and take a brief just before the election. These are essential health and legal services and it doesn't reflect well on the care and respect for your patients when these things occur.
Please urgently notify the Forensic Hospital to expect Doctor Lucire's approach and that she has your approval for entry, just as was Doctor Westmore."
The response from Keller:
"The information I relayed to you was conveyed directly from Mr Dezfouli's treating team and accurately reflects the response he gave at that time. I am not disputing that he may have later today provided a different response to you. However, I am required to be satisfied that any patient receiving an assessment from an external psychiatrist, that has not been authorised by the treating team, has properly consented to this process.
I have been informed that Mr Dezfouli's transfer to Dee Why has now taken place, and he is under the care of a different team. I have asked that senior members of that team speak with him tomorrow to ascertain whether he is consenting to being assessed by Dr Lucire, and that he understands the purpose and limits of this assessment.
I must reiterate that the usual process for requesting such assessments is for the patient to notify the treating team of an intention to seek an opinion from an external medical practitioner. It is appropriate for the patient's primary carer to assist in this process. Without such notification, it is not possible to verify that the patient him/herself has properly consented to such an assessment. That is the reason that I am required to send this request back to the treating team for further clarification.
Once I am in a position to properly consider the request, it will be processed according to our procedures.
Dr Lucire would be advised to not attend the Forensic Hospital for this purpose until such time as I have confirmed with you, as Mr Dezfouli's primary carer, that this request has been approved by Justice Health."
In an email from Brett:
"We think that your Inquiry and assessment of the withdrawal of Saeed's request for an independent assessment is done too lightly.
Mr Dezfouli has been disputing the correctness of the assessment of the treating team and its recommendations that he should remain in the highest security for many years. He has consistently wanted that to be reassessed and instructed me accordingly late last week. He denies having changed that desire or expressed a change. He said it would be entirely contrary to what he sees as his best interest, which is to challenge his treatment as being wrong and to bring publicity to that wrong treatment, not just for himself but also for others. He utterly denies having said that he doesn't want an independent assessment, as that would be against his interests and that of others.
The treating team said he told them he doesn't want an independent assessment. So the team that is to be challenged says that the subject no longer wants to challenge them. That alleged statement serves its interest. It is also contrary to the consistent position he has taken and has presented before the Supreme Court and is currently presenting to the public, as well as to his instructions given to the Primary Carer. If true it would undermine his credibility and give support to the treating team. Surely such a significant change in his position was independently witnessed or signed otherwise it wouldn't be believable?
It is easy to accuse a mental health consumer of delusions and of having no credibility. We think it is an important issue to examine and consider carefully.
To whom was the statement made and under what conditions?"
In an email from Brett to Adrian Keller:
"Saeed has just told me again that he assured your staff today that he wants to be externally examined, and there was nothing he had said previously that could have been misinterpreted.
This matter has now been waiting a week. Please notify your staff that Dr Lucire is welcome to visit and let me know so we can make arrangements."
Emails were sent to Dr Keller asking for a response and explanation on the 13th and 17th May 2011, and phone messages were also left during this period.
17th May 2011
Adrian Keller responded:
"As soon as I was informed by the treating team of Mr Dezfouli's intention to seek the external opinion from Dr Lucire, I set in motion the process to enable this to occur.
There are a set of procedures within Justice Health that need to be followed in these circumstances.
I can confirm that, as of today, these processes have been completed and Dr Lucire is authorised to attend the hospital to assess Mr Dezfouli. The relevant parties that can enable access for Dr Lucire have been notified.
Please let me know the specific date that Dr Lucire intends to attend the hospital and I will ensure that the security clearance remains valid."
Brett Collins requested to visit with Dr Lucire on the morning of 24th May 2011. A request was made for Saeed’s medical records to be made available.
18th May 2011
In an email sent to Adrian Keller, regarding the reported rejection by Saeed Dezfouli of an independent examination:
"In my email May 10 I said:
"It is easy to accuse a mental health consumer of delusions and of having no credibility. We think it is an important issue to examine and consider carefully. To whom was the statement made and under what conditions?"
We ask the question again as it is a significant matter to retain standards and trust for your staff. It also held up the examination of Saeed's independent psychiatric examination.
The alleged report that Saeed was no longer wanting an independent psychiatric examination is clearly self serving, and against the stated interest of the patient. Saeed utterly denies saying it or anything that could be misconstrued to mean it. We are sure you would wish also to clear the matter up, and put your staff's standards beyond question."
18th May 2011
The response from Adrian Keller, refusing an investigation into the issue surrounding Saeed’s request for an independent examination:
"I have considered your request and have determined that no further investigation or explanation is warranted.
With respect, the issue you refer to involves the expression of differing views about what was communicated during a conversation between Mr Dezfouli and a member of staff. We are very unlikely to resolve this difference of opinion. This matter no longer retains its former salience as the original request, made by yourself, has been granted."
27th July 2011
Dani called Elouera Ward on 9700 3397 at 2:44pm, regarding a proposed visit on Friday, 29th July 2011. Dani spoke to Lynn, a causal staff member (name stated on answering the phone), who stated she would have one of the permanent staff members to call back. Lynn was very friendly and promptly took details and volunteered a return phone call.
28th July 2011
Dani called Elouera Ward at 1:11pm and spoke to Robyn, who identified herself as the Ward Clark who took details including name, address, phone number, DOB, and relationship to Saeed.
She stated that she would put Dani's details through to be processed, and to ring back around Wednesday next week once the details had been processed.
3rd August 2011
Dani called Elouera Ward at 1:20pm and spoke to Robyn, who remembered the purpose of Dani's call. She was then transferred through to Steve (title unknown) and informed that her security process was still being completed. Further, there was no indication of when this would be complete.
10th August 2011
Dani called Elouera Ward at 10:25am and spoke to Robyn, who took her information again and remembered Dani's application, expressing surprise that it hadn’t been completed yet. Took Dani's phone number and promised to speak to Security about it and get them to give me a call back on her personal mobile.
No call back that day.
Dani was overseas for two weeks, beginning on 11th August 2011.
27th July 2011
Rosie, calling on behalf of Dani, called Elouera Ward at 10:52am. She spoke to Robyn, who said to call back again that time next week (2nd September 2011) and ask for Robyn, and she would sort out the applications.
Robyn remembered Dani’s application, and said Dani should call back when she returns to work. Robyn said she believed the visitation pass has gone though.
Brett called back at 1:35pm on the same day and spoke to someone at the “Ward Desk” who would not give their name regarding booking a time to visit Saeed. He was informed that up to four visitors are allowed at one time. He was then told that Dani’s request had been put through to Justice Health, who is in charge of security, and that the process should take about three weeks.
Brett also emailed Adrian Keller regarding the hold up in the processing of Dani’s application:
“We are concerned that one of Saeed's friends has been waiting for over four weeks to be approved for visiting him.
The Ward Clerk told us this afternoon that "it is with senior management".
What is the reason for the holdup please? The matter of helping you with your patients by giving them social support with access to community friends has been raised with you a number of times.
Saeed also has a MHRT hearing on September 15. As you are aware they are a public hearing and we want to ensure Saeed's friends can attend.
Would you ensure permissions are complete urgently, and indicate when that will happen?”
29th August 2011
A Project Officer from the Forensic Mental Health Network forwarded Brett’s email to the Service Director of the Forensic Hospital, as he “should be able to assist you with your request.”
The Service Director never made contact.
“My name is Dani and I am a friend of Saeed Dezfouli. I have been waiting for over four weeks to receive approval to visit him.
Brett Collins, Saeed's primary carer, has taken up my enquiry with Justice Health and was informed that his email would be passed on to you as you are best able to deal with our request.
I write to you to ensure that this email was passed on to you and to enquire as to the process involved in gaining approval as no one has been able to inform us of this and to ascertain a time period that this will be achieved in.”
2nd September 2011
“I write to enquire as to the process involved in gaining approval as no one has been able to inform us of this and to ascertain a time period that this will be achieved in.”
In response to Brett’s email (sent on teh 26th August 2011), Dr Adrian Keller promised a response early in the next week regarding visitors for Saeed’s MHRT hearing scheduled for the 15th September 2011:
“I will discuss arrangements for their participation in Mr Dezfouli's hearing with our Security Manager first thing next week, and provide you with a response”
8th September 2011
The response from Keller:
“Dear Mr Collins
I can confirm that each of the persons listed in your email, including Dani, has been approved as a registered visitor to the Forensic Hospital for Mr Dezfouli.
As discussed, for the purposes of MHRT hearings, a maximum of 2 visitors (excluding legal representatives but including yourself as primary carer) will be permitted to attend the FH for the hearing.
Dr Adrian Keller”
9th September 2011
Email from Dani to Brett, summarising phone call to Robyn at Elouera Ward on the morning of 9th September 2011:
Just spoke to Robyn at Elouera ward - she has the list of six names (that does not include me) and was told by 'senior management' that the names will be discussed today for approval. That is they are not officially approved yet despite what Keller told you.
She advised that you contact 'senior management' again to make sure my details will be approved as well and that it’s all on track. She couldn’t book in a visit yet as the names are not yet approved but asked me to call back Monday.
She was really apologetic about this whole process and told me she doesn't understand what the holdup is. I think maintaining a positive relationship with Robyn is very important, as she could be a massive thorn in our side if we get on the wrong side of her.
13th September 2011
As Dani was not in the office to return Robyn’s call on Monday, Robyn rang Dani on her mobile (listed as a contact number) at 8:42am on the 13th of September 2011.
Dani provided Robyn with her information required to gain visitation rights again, and was informed that all visitation requests are going for review (but was not informed where this review would be conducted, or whom was reviewing them) on Friday, and that all requests would be approved.
Dani was instructed to call back next Tuesday (20th September 2011) to organize visits.
There were still no visit(s) permitted.
As of September 16th, 2011 – two years and three months after the first request was made – Justice Action has received no official policy for visitation approval, and has had no workers or interns (with the exception of Brett, who is Saeed’s primary carer) approved to visit Saeed within the Long bay Forensic Hospital facility.