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J Law Med. 2014 Jun;21(4):942-56.

Transparency in mental health: why mental health tribunals should be required to publish reasons.


There is a need for greater transparency and accountability in Australia's civil commitment system, which governs the involuntary detention and treatment of people with mental illness. This article explains how transparency and accountability may be addressed by Australia's mental health tribunals publishing reasons more frequently. The principles of open justice, therapeutic jurisprudence, and human rights provide justifications for an increase in the publication of reasons. The right to privacy is important in civil commitment cases but the use of redacted reasons would appropriately balance the right to privacy with the need for transparency and accountability. Ideally mental health tribunals should provide redacted reasons in all cases. If resource constraints prevent this, then redacted reasons should be published, as a minimum, in cases which involve a novel issue or complex factual circumstances, or when a patient makes a competent request for the reasons to be published.

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