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Mental Health

Mental Tribunal threatens indefinite imprisonment

After an unprecedented six weeks in consideration, the Mental Health Review Tribunal made a 58 page decision on March 20, 2014 on the future of Saeed Dezfouli, the man who was subject of the ABC Background Briefing program “The Man Without a Name”.

‘The Tribunal rubber-stamped the hospital’s authority to act as it wants, despite the Supreme Court saying it had power over the hospital. The forced injections will continue in the highest security cells. It said if Saeed doesn’t "make a genuine effort to engage with the treating team’s current treatment plan which includes injected medication…he may simply continue to remain in his current circumstances indefinitely”. We are considering another appeal’ said Justice Action Coordinator Brett Collins.

Saeed said today: “I’m not surprised by the result. For twelve years they have been trying to reduce me and those around me to dazed, medicated semi-humans. That is their culture. They must respect our human right to learn and recover”. He has begun a weekly blog called “VOICE INSIDE MADNESS" reporting on what is happening around him.

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Update on Saeed: 12 March, 2014

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.

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Saeed's Strike Ends

"Forty eight hours after Saeed Dezfouli  was forcibly injected by eight staff from the Forensic Hospital, he called off his hunger and thirst protest strike” said Justice Action Coordinator Brett Collins. 

"On Saturday afternoon the hospital told him that it was reducing the dosage of paliperidone. After consultation with his support group, Saeed decided to keep his strength rather than endangering his life further,” Mr Collins explained.

"This was tactical decision by Saeed, pending a Mental Health Review Tribunal Review five weeks away, foreshadowed by the Supreme Court. An application was made yesterday to bring the hearing forward because of the Forensic Hospital’s decision to ignore alternative treatment using social support, and compel submission for its own convenience. An agreement Saeed had made with Mental Health Consumer Workers would have avoided the continued confrontation, but wasn’t even listened to” said Mr Collins.

"Saeed's David and Goliath struggle with the mental health system continues to highlight its brutality. Forcibly medicating intelligent and gentle Saeed when he is causing no problem, is contrary to the principles of “Recovery”, and against the national agreement that seclusion and restraint is anti therapeutic. It is easy bullying vulnerable people who are instead entitled to service, but have no power or support to compel it” said Mr Collins. 

"Saeed has served twelve years of brutal imprisonment without an end, for an act that would have merited four years in the criminal system. It is time to let this proud man go, giving him support to resettle in the community” said Mr Collins.

Saeed's Treatment Proposal

Great progress continues for Saeed’s battle!

In preparation of the pending review of Saeed’s case, he has constructed a proposed treatment plan for himself to be decided on by the Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT). In this plan, Saeed accepts responsibility for his behaviour in 2002 and realises that it caused the death of a person despite no intention to do so. Saeed will also continue to engage with the Justice Health and accepts the taking of Paliperidone orally daily.

On the other hand, he wishes to be transferred to a Forensic Mental Health Unit of lower security within the next 2 months and upon being transferred, have meetings with a Consumer Worker and psychiatric support for a 6-month period. Finally, his devised treatment plan states that in the September Review, 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.

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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