CRISIS: Saeed Forced Medication Begins

On Thursday 20th February 2014, mental patient Saeed Dezfouli was held face down by seven nurses and a doctor, had his trousers removed and was injected with 150mg of Paliperidone as a new trial medicine by the Forensic Hospital, after twelve years of other forced medication.

He has collapsed in a cell and is now refusing all food, water and medicine in response. He said he: ‘felt crushed, detached from life, hopeless without a future and his life was ended’. He is expected to be removed to Prince of Wales Hospital within days, to be strapped to a bed and have drips inserted to keep him alive. This is a shameless example of the coercive culture of mental health in an $17 billion annual Health budget. He was causing no one any problem.

Earlier in the day psychiatrist Dr Rafe Pulley consulted with the Director of the Hospital Adrian Keller, and declared that injections were needed. They rejected an alternative plan with Health Department Mental Health Consumer Workers, agreed to by Saeed, without hearing it. A Supreme Court injunction preventing the forced treatment was lifted on January 17thLindsay J. supported an early review by the Mental Health Review Tribunal to direct the hospital to act for Saeed’s benefit. The hospital has now usurped that forthcoming review.

Over the previous twelve years despite being a gentle intelligent person he has been forcibly medicated and has suffered diabetes, high blood pressure, a heart condition, weight gain, loss of concentration and loss of sexual arousal as side effects. He did an act for which he would have received a four years sentence but is being tortured without end, to force him into submission.

Justice Action is applying for an urgent intervention by the Tribunal and the Minister of Mental Health Kevin Humphries.

Attachment: Transcript of Mental Health Review Tribunal hearing held on 12 September 2013.

Report Meeting 20/2/14 Saeed at Forensic Hospital

Rafe Pulley psychiatrist, Liz (Saeed’s primary nurse) Saeed Dezfouli, Douglas Holmes (consumer worker) and Brett Collins primary carer

The initiative for this meeting was an email sent  29/1/14 by Brett to Adrian Keller, the Clinical Director of the Forensic Hospital and Long Bay Hospitals to consider the use of consumer workers to assist Saeed in his future directions. (see under)

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Commentary on Lindsay J’s Judgment Power of MHRT

The power of the Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT) to control the treatment of patients by the hospital was considered for the first time at the hearing about Saeed Dezfouli held on the 20th September 2013. Judicial member Helen Morgan asked Saeed’s lawyer:

You say the Tribunal has that power?”[1] After hearing all arguments the Tribunal stated it would only “intervene in exceptional circumstances”.[2]

That decision was challenged by the NSW Supreme Court. The recent judgment of Lindsay J in Saeed Dezfouli’s case [2014] NSWSC 31 establishes the Tribunal’s power over the mental health system.

The Mental Health Consumer Information Sheet was created after consultation with the Tribunal and Justice Health. Download here

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Developing Crisis: Injection despite new power of Tribunal

Now that the injunction protecting Saeed has been lifted, he is vulnerable to the threatened forced injection by the Forensic Hospital psychiatrists. In losing the injunction in the Supreme Court, Justice Action asked the Court to determine the extent of the Tribunal’s powers and responsibilities to control the hospital. A link to Lindsay J’s judgment on the case can be found here. [2014] NSWSC 31. Additionally, here is a commentary on Lindsay’s judgment.

 Lindsay J established “in aid of early preparations for a forthcoming review”, the Tribunal’s power over the mental health system, clearly endorsing that the best interests of the patient is the paramount consideration for the MHRT.

It is noteworthy that for the past two years, the hospital has not utilised their authority until now, and there is a gap before Saeed's next Review in March.

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Update – 20/12/2013: Supreme Court & High Court Appeals


Update – 20/12/2013: Supreme Court & High Court Appeals


Two cases on consecutive days about Saeed! The Supreme Court looked at the legal power over the hospital, and the High Court looked at the same issue from an identical challenge almost exactly 3 years before.

In the Supreme Court, Justice Lindsay listened to arguments all day, with four lawyers in attendance, and has reserved his decision. In the High Court, intervention was refused for the $52 000 costs against us in the same challenge. Amazing stuff! Yet all those in the mental health industry agree that force against mental health patients, whether seclusion or restraint, is not therapeutic. The court will have to resolve this.

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Update Saeed High Court of Australia Appeal

Saeed's case is now before the High Court of Australia, in the latest thrust to expose the structural abuse of people in mental hospitals, and the lack of accountability to standards of respect.

The High Court has to consider whether there is a valid Public Interest to protect individuals like Saeed who come under the jurisdiction of the NSW Mental Health Act, and whether the UN Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities should be considered. Additionally whether the NSW Attorney General should be permitted to claim court costs based upon an exposed lie.

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Landmark Public Interest Battle Looming

Justice Action has a case around "A", before the Mental Health Review Tribunal. It will define the rights of people and their carers to challenge their treatment in mental hospitals.
Although the language of government responses to mental health support is changing rapidly to the “person-centred approach of recovery”, the reality on the ground is still authoritarian with coercion and forced medication the standard treatment. It is easy, cheap, and certain.

Justice Action has been asking the Tribunal to assert its power over the hospital since 2009. JA appealed to the Supreme Court over its refusal, and is arguing before the High Court of Australia the Public Interest to protect people in mental hospitals and support the UN Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities. Now the Tribunal has squarely before it psychiatric evidence that the hospital has damaged A’s health by its forced treatment. 

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Saeed: Report on $36,000 Costs Hearing in Court of Appeal

 Costs appeal 28 June 2013

The Justice Action team outside the Court of Appeal on Friday 28 June 2013

Report on $36,000 Costs Hearing in Court of Appeal

On Friday 28 June 2013, Justices Ruth McColl and Fabian Gleeson heard Saeed Dezfouli’s application for leave to appeal. Appeal is sought against the cost order of $36,000 made by Justice Johnson in the Supreme Court against Saeed and his primary carer. The decision has been reserved until a later date to be determined. If the court grants leave, a further hearing will be heard in front of three judges to determine the appeal itself.

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Report on A's Hearing with the Mental Health Review Tribunal

Due to a request from the Mental Health Review Tribunal, the Justice Action team was forced to remove the names of persons related to the proceedings. Our plaintiff’s name has been replaced with ‘A’. This occurs despite the clear wishes of A to have his name publicised and the basic entitlement to freely and publicly criticise the abuses of justice done to him.

On Thursday, 27 July 2013, the Mental Health Review Tribunal chaired by an ex-Supreme Court Justice conducted a hearing for the case of A with A’s psychiatrists. Representing for the hospital was the head of the treating team, a nurse, a registrar and others. Solicitor Peter O’Brien and 2 members of Justice Action were also there to support A. Justice Action’s publication of Mad in Australia was distributed to the hearing’s attendees.

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