LLS Staff Seminar #4: Decision-Making About People Found Not Guilty by Reason of Impairment: Dilemmas and Human Rights Challenges

In the fourth La Trobe Law School Staff Seminar for 2016, Dr Fleur Beaupert will discuss the dilemmas, challenges and obstacles of decision-making about people found not guilty by reason of impairment.

Abstract

Decision-making about people found not guilty by reason of mental impairment lies at the intersection of the criminal justice and mental health systems. Under the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997 (Vic) the Supreme Court or County Court may declare that a defendant found not guilty on this basis is liable to supervision under Part 5 of the Act. The court then makes a supervision order for the person, requiring them to be kept in custody or releasing them on conditions.

Decisions about progress through, and release from, the forensic system are made by the court. The Forensic Leave Panel, a multi-disciplinary statutory tribunal, hears applications for short-term leave. Such decision-making is strongly influenced by the disciplines of forensic psychiatry and psychology. A major factor for these decision-makers to consider is the safety of the person subject to the order and members of the public. The court is also to apply the principle that restrictions on individual freedom and autonomy should be kept to the minimum consistent with community safety. The Forensic Leave Panel is required to consider the person’s rehabilitation, mental condition, clinical history and social circumstances.

In this seminar Fleur Beaupert will discuss dilemmas surrounding decision-making in this context, taking into account existing research and judicial decisions. There is an ongoing tension between the emphasis the legislation places upon public protection and meeting the individual needs of forensic patients. The seminar will also explore human rights challenges posed due to the advent of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which Australia is a party. The Disability Convention calls for substantial restructuring of the way in which legal, health and social systems conceive of and respond to disability, including psychosocial disability or mental illness.

Biography

Dr Fleur Beaupert will start work as a lecturer at La Trobe Law School in July 2016. She holds a BA, LLB and PhD from the University of Sydney. Her doctoral thesis focused on mental health law and her recent research examines the implications of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for domestic law reform. Fleur was previously a Senior Research Analyst with the NSW Ombudsman’s Police Division, where she worked on a review of the updated consorting offence in the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and led a review of new search powers and offence provisions in the Restricted Premises Act 1943 (NSW). Fleur has lectured for the University of Western Sydney and University of Sydney law faculties. She has worked as a solicitor with NSW Legal Aid’s Mental Health Advocacy Service and is a former Committee Member of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties.

Seminar

Date: Thursday 2 June 2016

Time: 12.45pm to 2pm

Venue: La Trobe Law School Moot Court, Social Sciences Building (Room 232), La Trobe University Melbourne Campus

Cost: Free

RVSP: Please register via Eventbrite by Tuesday 31 May 2016.

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