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.
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.
Justice Health at Long Bay Hospital has involuntarily administered antipsychotic medication on the grounds that Malcolm Baker suffered from mental illness, which is repeatedly proved otherwise, resulting in him being transferred back to and from the hospital. This abuse continued over 24 years until the Mental Health Tribunal, on the 24th of July, ruled that this was clearly wrong and unjustified. The Tribunal declared that the mental illness diagnosis was unfounded on three separate occasions and concluded that there was no explanation for the forced medication. Malcolm Baker has also stated that he is stable and comfortable, to which witnesses have agreed, and there has been no accusations being made that Malcolm Baker self-harmed or attacked other people.
Despite the recommendations made in the first two Tribunal decisions, Mr Baker was transferred back to Long Bay Hospital on the 6th of July 2016, where he was again subjected to forced medication. Mr Baker is currently being held in the mental health pod of the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre (MRRC) and still awaits return to South Coast Correctional Centre, Nowra (SCCC) where he can gain access to a job, educational courses and has the opportunity to develop friendships.
Malcolm Baker’s case demonstrates the need to reform the delivery of Justice Health services. Administering forced medication for unusual or critical prisoners for the purpose of easy management is a blatant abuse of power that must be confronted. Despite this illegal system of management, this approach is increasingly adopted within prisons with Health Department support. In an attempt to discourage such attitude towards prisoners, Justice Action have initiated discussions with the following authorities in a series of emails dated from the 8th of August:
- Justice Health
- Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network Board
- Community Reference Group
- Mental Health Advocacy Service
- Corrective Services NSW
None of these authorities have responded seriously to the issues despite this challenge. The fact that they can ignore us and carry on as usual highlights the powerlessness of prisoners and the lack of legal recourse to gross abuses that are clearly present in the system. It is clear that the Hippocratic Oath “Do no harm” is not followed in our prisons, as prisoners state they are more fearful of doctors than guards. Mr Baker’s case reflects a failure of proper healthcare delivery in the prison system, arising from lack of proper care and a subsequent denial of responsibility by public authorities for the improper diagnoses.
Our initial report on this matter can be found here.
Justice Health: Gary Forrest – Chief Executive of the Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network
In a series of emails dated 18th August to 6th September, Justice Action and Mr Forrest looked to develop a relationship through which issues concerning their culture could be formally discussed. These issues included the case of Malcolm Baker, quality control in public health, Justice Action’s membership in the Community Reference Group (CRG), and prisoner representation on the Justice Health board. Despite initially demonstrating a willingness to develop this relationship, Mr Forrest declined to meet, citing satisfaction with the Network’s progress on the issues we highlighted and the lack of desire to expand their community representative base.
Mr Forrest’s unwillingness to engage with the concerns raised by Justice Action reflects poorly on the Health Network, which serves as another clear example of the evasion of responsibility by public officials for Mr Baker’s mistreatment and for maintaining prisoner health in general. Mr Forrest’s lack of response also undermines the appropriate delivery of Justice Health services.
Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network Board
Justice Action sent emails to the following members of the Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network Board:
- Christopher Puplick (Chair)
- Ken Barker (Deputy Chair)
- Adrian Bartels
- Alison Churchill
- Ian Gillespie
- Stuart Loveday
- Michelle Eason
- Peter Dwyer
- Shireen Malamoo
- Professor Terry Campbell
- Penny Abbott
Justice Action approached these individuals personally in order to initiate a social response to the internal culture of abuse of power that Mr Baker’s case exposes. We have received no responses from any of these individuals except for Ms Malamoo, who directed us to contact the CEO of the Board. We have duly attempted to contact the CEO, however no further replies have been received, as noted above. This Board is charged with implementing a five-year strategic plan for the Network, which is itself responsible for healthcare delivery to individuals involved in criminal justice systems. The Board members’ lack of response to exposed abuse marks a clear dereliction of this responsibility.
Justice Action reached out to Christopher Puplick, the chairperson of the Board. Our email asked him to confront the issues raised by Mr Baker’s case. The email also addressed related failures of the mental health system, citing the refusal to involve prisoner representatives in Board meetings, questioning what response the Board has made to the Full House report and inquiring what other actions have been taken to address the worsening conditions of Prisoner Health Services. Mr Puplick had demonstrated a support for human rights issues throughout his career and accompanied Justice Action in the ACT consultation on the Needle and Syringe Program in 2011. Despite this, Justice Action is disappointed to report that we have received no reply from Mr Puplick.
Community Reference Group
The Community Reference Group (CRG) is an advisory group that is responsible for reflecting consumer perspectives during decision-making stages of the Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network Community. The CRG is comprised of the following members:
- Jo-Ann Brown
- Emma Todd
- Janelle Buncombe
- Allison Preobrajensky
- Corinne Henderson
- Fiona Poeder
- Kat Armstrong
- Leanne Willing
- Rhiannon Cook
- Susanne Wilkinson
- Glen Charlesworth
- Andrea Rocha
- Gary Forrest
- Ciara Donaghy
Justice Action sent emails to these members drawing attention to Mr Baker’s case. Few replies have been received to our emails. One of the replies simply concerned a question of confidentiality with no reference to the information and questions asked in our email. We find this appalling response rate disheartening and disrespectful to the people that the CRG ostensibly strive to assist, including Mr Baker.
Our correspondence can be found here.
Mental Health Advocacy Service
The Mental Health Advocacy Service (MHAS) is a branch of Legal Aid that provides specialist legal assistance in regards to mental health law. Justice Action sent correspondence to both Todd Davis and Robert Wheeler, solicitors for MHAS, on the 20th of July to seek information on resources available for mental health clients who did not have confidence in the MHAS. The response received from the Todd Davis was nothing more than an advisory notice that should legal aid funding be needed, the appropriate form must be completed and submitted. This demonstrates a clear lack of regard for Mr Baker’s case. Justice Action is further displeased to note the lack of response from managing solicitor Robert Wheeler.
Corrective Services NSW
The Commissioner of Corrective Services redirected a query to Mr Luke Grant, Assistant Commissioner for Corrections Strategy and Policy, requesting for Mr Baker to be returned to Nowra prison. It is now November and Mr Baker is still not in his correct prison of classification despite our persistent requests for Mr Baker to be transported to Nowra prison. He is still held in an unstable environment, without a job or things to do.
Our correspondence can be found here.