Decision-making of the Queensland Mental Health Review Tribunal

Dr Sam Boyle1

1ACHLR, Queensland University Of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

Healthcare and technology – a clash of culture between patient-centric care and commercial incentives

This paper presents the results of a focus group study of lawyers and advocates for people with matters before the Queensland Mental Health Review Tribunal. The study shows that if the views of our participants are accurate, there are number of concerns in relation to the way the Tribunal makes decisions about involuntary treatment for mental illness. I and Tamara Walsh (UQ) discerned four main concerns from the focus groups. The most common concern raised was that the Tribunal did not provide a platform for the evidence of the treating team to be sufficiently challenged. Another concern was that the patient’s views about the side effects of treatment were not given sufficient consideration. Our participants also raised concerns about the manner in which electro-convulsive therapy was authorised, as well as the lack of recording of hearings and publishing of reasons. In this paper, we analyse these concerns through the lens of the common law rules of procedural fairness, and the lens of human rights law. We conclude that if our participants’ views are accurate, the tribunal may need to adjust its approach in order to meet its legal obligations. However, we acknowledge the limitations of this study; in particular, the fact that these views, and our analysis, come from a legal perspective. With this in mind, I will explore the ways in which other perspectives may cohere or clash with the conclusions that we have drawn.


Sam Boyle is a lecturer in the Australian Centre for Health Law Research at the Queensland University of Technology.  His primary interests are in how the law determines legal capacity, involuntary treatment for mental illness, and consent for medical treatment

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