Saeed’s hearing before the Tribunal is fast approaching! On Thursday 20 March the Tribunal will conduct an urgent review of Saeed’s case, that has been brought forward from the usual six-monthly timetable in light of the extraordinary circumstances that Saeed is facing. After a period of high tension between Saeed and the hospital, appeal to the NSW Supreme Court, an injunction, disrupted negotiation, forced medication and a water and hunger strike, Saeed’s case is finally coming to a head.
We have had an early breakthrough! The Forensic Hospital has previously not used the vital link of social support in the form of Consumer Workers for those held in there. The newly adopted recovery oriented national mental health framework aspires to fifty percent of workers in the industry being Consumer Workers. Following negotiation they are included in Saeed’s treatment plan and will now regularly attend the hospital.
Saeed will be supported at his hearing by Peter O’Brien (solicitor), Dr Yolande Lucire (psychiatrist), Brett Collins (primary carer), Tim Heffernan (Chair, NSW Mental Health Consumer Worker Committee) and Anthony York (friend from Justice Action).
The Tribunal requested and has been supplied with those documents upon which Saeed proposes to rely at his hearing. These documents include his proposed treatment plan (detailed below), a report by Dr Lucire outlining the reasons why Saeed’s treatment should not continue in its current form, empirical evidence supporting Dr Lucire’s conclusions regarding the negative side effects of Saeed’s current medication and highlights of the prescribing information for Paliperidone.
The report from Saeed’s treating team is due to the MHRT today. Following this, Saeed and his support team will have five days to prepare and submit a response to this report if necessary. This all means that the next week is absolutely crucial for Saeed!
The plan that Saeed is proposing to the MHRT represents a new approach to the treatment of individuals in forensic hospitals by incorporating elements of self-determination and social support. In his proposal Saeed accepts responsibility for his behaviour in 2002 and realises that his actions caused the death of a person, despite him having no intention to do so. Saeed will also continue to engage with Justice Health and accept the oral administration of Paliperidone each day.
As recognition of these acceptances, Saeed wishes to be transferred to a Forensic Mental Health unit of lower security within the next two months. Upon such transfer, he requests meetings with a Consumer Worker and psychiatric support for a period of six months. Finally, his devised treatment plan states that in the September review of his case, if the MHRT receives reports that there is no significant risk of Saeed causing serious harm to himself or others, then he will be released with Neami National or a similar facility.
Significantly, Justice Health agreed before his hearing to allow Consumer Workers into the forensic hospital to conduct regular meetings with the individuals detained there. This agreement leaves open the opportunity to work with the Tribunal to achieve individual peer support visits for Saeed as proposed in his treatment plan. The willingness of the hospital to adopt such a program is evidence of the progress that has been made towards a more consumer-focused mental health system that treats individuals as human beings, rather than diagnoses.
Watch this space for further updates on Saeed’s case and the result of his hearing. Big things are happening!