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Mental Health

4th September 2014: MHRT Hearing

On 4 September 2014 the Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT) convened for Saeed Dezfouli. The hearing followed a series of meetings with the hospital that were held to address why key recommendations from the last MHRT hearing had not been implemented. Justice Health’s conduct during those negotiations demonstrated an absolute unwillingness to be held accountable for their actions and a cavalier approach to the implementation of MHRT recommendations. The Lindsay judgment giving power to the Tribunal had been ignored by the hospital. Here is our Media Release.

This report details the exchanges between Saeed, his primary carer and Justice Action Coordinator, Brett Collins, his treating team from Justice Health in the period between the publication of the MHRT decision on 2 May 2014 through to the most recent hearing on 4 September 2014. The first section of this report provides a background to the recent series of meetings and hearings, including an outline of media interest in Saeed and details of the meetings that occurred. Section 2 discusses the problems with with the MHRT report handed down on 26 August 2014. The third and final section details the issues with the subsequent Hearing on 4 September 2014.

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16th July 2015: Hospital doubles dosage and attacks Carer

Saeed Dezfouli who featured in the ABC program ‘The man without a name’ has been subjected to a series of new attacks against his personal support and bodily integrity.

On the 24th of June 2015, Saeed was injected with double the dose of Paliperidone on the order of psychiatrist Barbara Sinclair. On December 8th last year they injected him with Clopixol after he refused to meet with them. He had told them it was the drug he most feared said Mr. Collins.

Over the last thirteen and a half years, Saeed’s forced medication has been changed nine times. These attacks against Saeed are now being made against his supporters as well.

In a letter dated 28th May 2015, Clinical Director, Dr. Tobias Mackinnon claimed that Saeed’s Primary Carer, Brett Collins acted in a threatening manner and that the ‘duress buttons’ were nearly pushed during a meeting. This would have resulted in a team of ten nurses to be despatched to deal with a potentially violent threat. Dr. Mackinnon threatened to bring the Primary Carer relationship under review, and to exclude our access to Saeed and the forensic hospital said Mr. Collins.

This is an outrageous intimidation. Here is my response and what Dr. Mackinnon and the psychiatrist, Barbara Sinclair said. 

Saeed is now preparing for his 4th Supreme Court appeal with a barrister currently being briefed. The Mental Health Review Tribunal refuses to control the hospital not having given any orders since 2009.  It is clear that the Mental Health Review Tribunal’s refusal to make orders in the best interests of Saeed’s care and treatment suggests a failure to abide by their statutory obligations and an inability to act for the benefit of forensic patients.

I will renounce my Australian citizenship and return to the chaos of Iran in order to escape the torturous hands of these doctors. I met with the Consul-General this week. Feel sick in the stomach waiting for their poison to hit. It is such an abuse, and I need help from outside” (Saeed Dezfouli, 24th June 2015)

Justice Action will steadfastly support Saeed’s right to bodily integrity without interference, and pressure the Forensic Hospital to provide Saeed with consumer worker support and access to a computer – which it continues to neglect more than a year after the Tribunal made those recommendations on March 2014.

Professor Dan Howard, President of the Tribunal said in frustration that sometimes the system needs a kicking. Six months later when nothing had happened.

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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"Make Orders!" says Saeed

“Make Orders!” says Saeed.

Saeed Dezfouli is locked in a mental health system with no oversight. The Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT) refuses to defend the people whom it is designed to protect. It is less than a rubber stamp. It says its "practice is not to make orders". That means the psychiatrists can do whatever they want, present Treatment Plans to the Tribunal at Reviews and then change them without any discussion or justification. Out of control but with the appearance of professional respect.

Recommendations made by the President of the Tribunal Dan Howard in March 2014 for Saeed to have a computer and consumer worker support "as soon as practicable" have been ignored. During the September 2014 Review Howard said: "sometimes the system needs a kicking" and still he was ignored. Contempt for him as he deserves! But Saeed gets the kicking.

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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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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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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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Justice Action
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E ja@justiceaction.org.au
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