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Mental Health

History of Attempts to Visit Saeed

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

                  3 -4

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;”

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Denial of Visiting

Community Access to Mental Health Patients (read as pdf)

Denial of Visiting

From April 2009 until September 13, 2011, several dozen citizens of good character including psychiatrists, lawyers and other people of goodwill were blocked access to visit and help Saeed Dezfouli after nine and a half years locked in a closed hospital. This is one of many issues dealt with by Saeed. An issue, which is so significant, that it was raised before the NSW supreme court. The Mental Health Review Tribunal was also asked to intervene. Nobody responded.

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Timeline of Saeed’s Case

1958

  • Saeed Dezfouli born in Iran. 

1983

  • Migrated to Australia. Immediately began studying a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in political sciences. 
 1986
  • Saeed became a citizen of Australia, and began working as a court interpreter for the Ethnic Affairs Commission NSW,

2001

  • Throughout 2001, Saeed received death threats. Decided to take action, and thus warned authorities on his concerns prior to committing the crime. He was accused of setting fire to the foyer of the Community Relations Commission (formerly the Ethnic Affairs Commission) at Ashfield by using a container of petrol. He was taken to Burwood police station where he was insulted, assaulted and unlawfully interrogated by the NSW Police. He was subsequently charged with several offences.

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About Saeed

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“I am a patient with patients’ rights, an inmate with inmates’ rights and a human being with human rights. These rights have been fundamentally and severely violated by unprofessional and sadistic state government employees in the positions of psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses and prison officers. They are required to go by the law, regulations, policy and procedures, codes of conduct practice and ethics, but they don’t.”

- Saeed Dezfouli

INTRODUCTION 

 

The NSW Health Department’s mental hospital is getting exposure through the window of patient Saeed Dezfouli. His case significantly highlights the issue with government bureaucracies dealing with challenging people at the individual level, lacking compassion, concern, or rational behaviour.

 

HISTORY 

 

Saeed Dezfouli was born in Iran in 1958 and came to Australia in 1983. Upon arriving in Australia as a refugee, he earned a degree in Bachelor of Arts and majored in political sciences. In 1986 he became a citizen of Australia and was working as a court interpreter for the Ethnic Affairs Commission NSW. Throughout 2001, he became fearful of his life and safety and stated that he had been receiving death threats. He felt that he was constantly under surveillance. He said that he warned the authorities by sending them letters about his concerns for 5 months prior to the offence.

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The Treatment of Saeed Dezfouli

History of Treatment


In February 2002 Saeed was transferred to Long Bay Prison Hospital and in 2004 he was found not guilty due to mental illness. Since that time he has been held indefinitely and subjected to continuous abuse. His mistreatment by the staff of Justice Health and the department of corrective services at Long Bay hospital can be seen through the following examples.

  • A number of times they kept Saeed naked in a solitary confinement cell for days to "break him down".
  • The first time, when they forced medication into him by injection they broke two of his ribs. The second time they left him bruised all over and in severe physical pain for days.
  • Twice they left him in a cell without toilet paper for four (4) days.
  • DCS Officers broke a number of his bones in LBH-1.
  • In January of 2005 Saeed got brutally assaulted by DCS Officers and as a result got a permanent back injury. Saeed was taken to Prince of Wales Hospital Emergency Room for the injuries inflicted upon him by DCS Officers.
  • Saeed now is suffering from heart condition, ulcers and diabetes as a result of the side effects of anti-psychotic medications combined with going through a daily oppressive and suppressive regimen.

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Forced Medication For Management Purposes

Contrary to the evidence presented, we lost the latest hearing into whether Malcolm Baker could be forcibly medicated.

Malcolm attended the Mental Review Health Tribunal on the 19th of April 2018 with the support of three members of the Justice Action team. Justice Health brought its team of psychiatrists who were committed to forcibly medicating Malcolm, with no evidence to support the risk of serious harm to self or others as required by the law. It was obvious that they thought they didn’t need any. Also, Malcolm was clearly suffering from side effects of the medication, drooling and unable to form full sentences. The Tribunal agreed that he was in bad shape and expressed their sympathies, however they still gave the order to continue the treatment for another 3 months. 

When the chair asked the psychiatrist for the worst-case scenario if they were to stop medicating him, they responded; “he could become difficult to manage.” It was a clear admission that Justice Health saw its responsibility to help manage the prison rather than to look after the health of its patient. The side effects of the medication were horrendous – clearly poison to his system. 

The culture of mental health in prisons meant that the Tribunal almost always agrees to Justice Health’s requests regardless of evidence. Justice Health agreed that they couldn’t enforce the order in Silverwater prison and would need to move Malcolm back to Long Bay to continue forcibly injecting him.

Justice Health tried to justify its desire to forcibly medicate Malcolm with a misleading 10-page statement suggesting that he had a long history of proven mental illness. Malcolm’s team dissected it and showed that not only did the two psychiatrists at his trial in 1992 say he was not psychotic, they also said he would not be a danger to the community in the future.

In addition, Malcolm demonstrated a successful resettlement in mainstream Nowra prison in 2014, and for long periods before and after without being forcibly medicated. This was for a period of 3 years between 2012-15, 14 months between 2015-16, and just under 2 years from 2016-2018. He had also been held for fifteen years in virtual solitary confinement in Goulburn SuperMax with no stated justification; however, he survived with good humour and stoicism, remaining in contact with his family and Justice Action.

On several occasions Malcolm has been forcibly medicated with varied justifications, such as that others were attacking him, or he had attempted to write a letter to a Senator.  

In three different cases before February 2018, Malcolm was taken before the Mental Health Review Tribunal who proceeded to reject the application by Justice Health for a Community Treatment Order. These cases occurred on 7th August 2012, 30th April 2015, and most recently 24th July 2016.

Before Malcolm’s tribunal hearing on 1st February 2018, the head of his treating team admitted that Malcolm had not attacked anyone nor harmed himself during the 26 years of his imprisonment. No evidence has ever been produced to suggest otherwise. He is a non-violent prisoner.

After the hearing Malcolm gave each team member a warm hug goodbye. He then said, “now I’m just going to go back to my cell, and they’re going to inject me.”  The Justice Action’s team felt their heart break for Malcolm in the wake of this disappointing result.

Malcolm Baker’s case demonstrates the inhumane culture of mental health in prisons. Justice Action will certainly appeal to the Supreme Court. We began the process the next day by requesting the audio transcript of the hearing. 

Malcolm Baker Index Page

Latest summary on Malcolm Baker tribunal hearing

Malcolm Baker's hearing was lost on the 1st of February 2018,the Mental Health review tribunal determine that Malcolm should continue to be detained at Long Bay Prison hospital.  Placing a halt on a series of three previous victories in 2010,2015 and 2016,whereby MHRT found no justification for continuing Malcolm’s forced medication. Given Malcolm’s previous record of non-violent behaviour, the lack of consensus regarding his mental diagnosis, and the absence of any evidence that he was a threat to other inmates, it was surprising, if not completely outrageous, that the MHRT arrived at the decision that it did.

During the hearing, Malcolm was represented and advocated solely by the Justice Action team. The tribunal allocated time for Justice Action to make Malcolm’s case, cross examine health authorities and suggest viable alternate treatment options. Two main legal arguments were presented to the tribunal.

  1. The requirements for involuntary admission, detention and treatment under s 14 of the Mental Health Act 2007 were not met.

Malcolm’s health debate has been disputed for a long period of time. The two most recent medical certificates presented before the Tribunal did not provide a consistent diagnosis. However, Justice Actions main contention was that there was a failure to establish a causal relationship between Malcolm’s mental illness and his two recent assaults. Section 14 of the Mental Health Act 2007 States that there must be ‘reasonable grounds for believing that care, treatment or control of the person is necessary for the person’s own protection from serious harm, or for the protection of others from serious harm’. On one of the medical certificates, it was stated that Malcolm had threatened to harm others. A request was made on the 24th of January asking Justice Health to provide evidence of this. However, the request was ignored and no evidence was provided.

  1. There had been a breach of the Principles for Care and Treatment of Mentally Ill Persons under s 68 of the Mental Health Act 2007.

Requirements under section 68 embrace that people with mental illnesses ‘should receive the best possible care and treatment, the prescription of medicine should meet the health needs of the person and not as a punishment or for the convenience of others.’. In particular, Justice Action drew attention to the side effects of the medication. It was reaffirmed that Malcolm was in blatant opposition to the treatment that he was receiving. Yet, his alleged failure to meaningfully engage with medical practitioners formed the basis of Justice Health’s recommendation that Malcolm should remain at Long Bay Prison Hospital for several more months to ensure that the medication had any “real effect”.

Following the last hearing with the mental health review tribunal on the 1st of February 2018 to which ruled that Malcolm was to continue to forcibly be medicated against his will, Justice Action has consistently engaged in the lobbying of the 12 leading legal and mental health organisations for support for Malcolm’s case. Also maintaining regular contact with Malcolm for updates on his situation. Next hearing with Mental Health Review Tribunal to consider forensic Compulsory Treatment Order scheduled Thursday 19th April 2018 at 12.45pm, at Long Bay Hospital.

Request to Return to Nowra - Still No Action Despite Victory: November 2016

Another win for Malcolm Baker on the 24th July 2016, before the Mental Health Review Tribunal, supported by barrister Ben Fogarty, psychiatrist Yola Lucire and Justice Action team. Despite having defended against and winning the case against forced medication over a year ago, the authorities said the medication would stop him annoying people and make him less vocal. It was illegal, and made him sick. The Mental Health Review Tribunal sat in Long Bay Hospital and found that Malcolm Baker did not pose a serious risk of harm to himself or others, thus there was no reason to hold him in the mental health facility.

Progress has since been made to begin to transition Malcolm Baker back into a correctional facility in his place of classification. At present he is being held at Silverwater Correctional Centre in Darcy 2, a transitional pod of the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre (MRRC). According to NSW Justice’s website, ‘Most inmates at the MRRC leave the centre within the first few months of their arrival. They may obtain bail and are released or they are classified and transferred to their centre of classification.’

The situation must be monitored to ensure he is returned to his place of classification. According to the Serious Offenders Review Council, he should remain classified as A2 at the South Coast Correctional Centre. Transition has not always been prompt in the past. Prior to the MHRT hearing Malcolm Baker was held in the mental health pod at the MRRC for 15 months where he was set up to fail by being placed in an unsettling environment with no access to prison employment, education and no chance to create stable and meaningful relationships.

It has been nearly four months since and no action has been taken by the responsible authorities to transfer Mr Baker to his place of classification where he wishes to obtain access to a prison job, education and engage in real relationships with fellow inmates. At the moment, Mr Baker is still being held in a mental health pod at the MRRC. 

Prisoner Malcolm Baker abused by Health Authorities: Report on Medical Watchdogs Failure

In regard to the unjust treatment Mr Baker received throughout his years in a corrective facility and in an attempt to get him transferred to his desired place of classification where he could get access to a job, education and engage in real relationships with other people, our team has constructed a report highlighting the efforts we have made in contacting and informing the responsible authorities of the situation after the Tribunal decision on the 24th of July 2016 has made it clear that he was unlawfully forced medicated. However, despite our persistent attempts, it is unfortunate to report that no discerning response has been received from any of the responsible authorities. 

Background

Justice Action has followed up the case of Malcolm Baker since the Mental Health Tribunal ruling. This decision successfully exposed the concern of sustained abuse Mr Baker has endured, as a subject of forced injections at Long Bay Prison Hospital.  Their failure to respond to our efforts in reaching out demonstrates an evasion of their responsibility to prevent abuse of power within the criminal justice system. This report aims to highlight those responsible authorities whose negligence has clearly been endemic to prison health culture.

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