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Victory! Malcolm’s Forced Medication Stopped: August 2018

IMG 0910On 16 August, Malcolm Baker won his case at a hearing before the Mental Health Review Tribunal. He will no longer be forcibly medicated.

In the past, Justice Action has appeared with Malcolm before the Mental Health Review Tribunal on six separate occasions to fight for his right to refuse medication. His last hearing took place on 28 June, but was adjourned without decision as Justice Health had failed to produce the medical certificates that were required as evidence.

Malcolm was supported at his 16 August hearing by two members of the Justice Action team, whilst another two members were refused entry despite previous arrangements.

A new psychiatric report provided by Justice Health was revealed, contradicting previous assessments of Malcolm. Previous psychiatrists had commented that Malcolm’s beliefs are “abnormal to the point of delusional”, concluding that he therefore had a “chronic psychotic illness.” However, the leading psychiatrist of the team now said, “Mr Baker has for many years been fascinated by alternative points of view, which may sound bizarre and impossible. However, it appears for many of these ideas, there are legitimate, rational explanations to be found in alternative research literature such as the Nexus magazine.”

Under s 16 of the Mental Health Act 2007, a person cannot be considered mentally ill merely on the basis of a particular philosophy, political beliefs, or opinions. Malcolm’s personal beliefs therefore cannot constitute a mental illness, and do not justify the use of forced medication.

“My own examination currently does not find true delusional ideation in his thinking,” stated the leading psychiatrist. According to him, medication would not have any impact on Malcolm’s personal beliefs, which had been the causes of controversy with previous treatment teams. The psychiatrist also noted that Malcolm has had no behavioural issues and has never displayed aggression, threats, or a “need to control him.”

Therefore, upon inspection of the evidence, it became clear that Malcolm did not meet the requirements articulated in s 14 of the Mental Health Act, which allows involuntary treatment in situations where a mentally ill person poses a serious risk of harm to himself or others.

As a result, Malcolm will be taken off the medication. He will remain in the hospital at Long Bay prison for the next three months whilst the medication is gradually discontinued. A psychologist will be allocated to Malcolm for cognitive behavioural therapy, which the leading psychiatrist says will allow him to “develop interpersonal skills and strategies that enable him to cope better.”

Justice Action is also applying to find Malcolm a job and educational opportunities. The psychiatrist agrees that work, education and socialisation is “very important” for Malcolm’s long-tem care and safety. 

His next hearing will take place in three months’ time, and will determine his future resettlement and a long-term strategy for care, treatment and control.

 

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E ja@justiceaction.org.au
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