Justice Examination Order documents - a guide for applicants

Note

On 6 March 2017 the Mental Health Act 2000 was repealed and replaced with the Mental Health Act 2016 (MH Act). The MH act introduces Emergency Examination Authorities (EEAs) in place of Justice Examination Orders (JEOs). This Information Sheet only applies to JEOs. An access application for an EEA has yet to be dealt with by an agency or at external review.  Accordingly, the Information Commissioner has not made a decision on accessing EEAs under the Right to Information Act 2009 or the Information Privacy Act 2009.

What is a Justices Examination Order?

A Justices Examination Order (JEO) is issued by a Justice of the Peace or a Magistrate, stating that they believe the person is suffering from a mental illness and should be examined by a healthcare professional.  A member of the community can ask the Justice of the Peace or Magistrate to issue a JEO.  Once issued, the JEO authorises a doctor or authorised mental health practitioner to examine the person.

Can I apply for the JEO documents?

The Right to Information Act 2009 (RTI Act) and the Information Privacy Act 2009 (IP Act) give people the right to apply to Queensland government agencies for access to documents. However, access to those documents may be refused if information in the documents is exempt or contrary to the public interest to release.

Will I get access to the JEO documents?

No, it is not likely that you will get access.  While we understand that the JEO process can be distressing, and that seeing the documents may be very important to you, the provisions of the RTI Act will probably prevent you from accessing the documents.

Why won’t I get access to the JEO documents?

Information is exempt from release if releasing it would prejudice a system for the protection of persons.  The procedure for making a JEO application is a procedure for the protection of persons[1].

Generally, people who supply information in support of a JEO application would expect the information to be kept confidential and only used for the purpose of the JEO.  If this information was to be routinely disclosed, it is likely that people would:

  • be reluctant to use the JEO system when it was appropriate to do so, or
  • give information in such guarded terms that it would be of little use in making the difficult assessment of whether action is needed to protect the person, or other people, from harm.

Generally, disclosure of JEO documents will have a negative impact on the JEO system.  This means that JEO documents will meet the requirements for exempt information and access to these documents can be refused.

What if I think the JEO was wrongly made?

We acknowledge that this can be a matter of significant concern, but it is not something which can be taken into account when deciding whether the JEO documents are exempt from release.  All that is required for the documents to be exempt is that their release could endanger a system for the protection of persons.

Personal or confidential information provided by other people

Even if information would not endanger a procedure for the protection of persons, it may still be withheld if releasing it would be contrary to the public interest.  Several of the public interest factors to be considered when making this decision relate to other people’s personal information and information given in confidence.

Generally, if information provided in relation to a JEO—

  • is someone else’s personal information, and/or
  • was given with the expectation it would be kept confidential

—it will be contrary to the public interest to release it.

[1] Previous Information Commissioner decisions have consistently held that that a JEO is a procedure for the protection of persons.

Current as at: March 6, 2017