Mental Health Tribunals as Governance: Lessons from an Australian Study?

Dublin University Law Journal, Forthcoming

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 11/12

36 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2011

See all articles by Terry Carney AO

Terry Carney AO

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: February 1, 2011


This article draws on a multi-year Australian collaborative study of mental health review tribunals in three jurisdictions (Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory) undertaken in conjunction with the NSW Law and Justice Foundation, using qualitative and quantitative methods to examine the role of mental health tribunals in advancing goals such as fairness, legality and access to treatment. In recognition of shrinkage of state resources available for treatment and care of the mentally ill in many jurisdictions, and limited time and resources for review bodies, the article reflects on stakeholder and client concerns about access to quality treatment and associated support services, review of treatment adequacy and drug regimes, and their ‘participation’ or dignity of engagement in review processes. Building on earlier arguments in favour of equipping tribunals to adequately engage the clinical and social domains in addition to the domain of ‘legal rectitude’, and for ‘flexibility’ of process more characteristic of case-conferencing modes, this article examines the implications of such findings for the interests of clients and overall ‘governance’ in mental health.

Keywords: mental health tribunals, governance, socio-legal evaluation, case-conference, stakeholder views

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K32

Suggested Citation

Carney AO, Terry, Mental Health Tribunals as Governance: Lessons from an Australian Study? (February 1, 2011). Dublin University Law Journal, Forthcoming, Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 11/12, Available at SSRN:

Terry Carney AO (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006

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