Community leave (also known as escorted and unescorted leave) is used to assist forensic and civil patients at Thomas Embling Hospital with their rehabilitation and recovery from mental illness. It is used to access activities such as:
- education and training,
- grocery shopping,
- attending medical appointments,
- consensual visits with family
- other activities.
The process of granting of leave for patients at Thomas Embling is dependent on the classification of patient:
The majority of patients at Thomas Embling Hospital are forensic patients. For these patients, decisions about community leave are made by the Forensic Leave Panel (FLP) (see below).
Security patients (prisoners) being treated at Thomas Embling Hospital are not able to access community leave.
Decisions about community leave for civil patients are made by Forensicare clinical staff and are in line with other mental health services across Victoria.
Forensic Leave Panel
The Forensic Leave Panel is an independent body chaired by a judge of the County or Supreme Court which was established under the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997 (CMIA).
The FLP takes a graduated approach to granting leave and a patient’s progression depends entirely on individual circumstances.
Initially, patients are granted a small amount of leave and are escorted by two or three clinically qualified Forensicare staff members. If leave occurs safely over a sustained period, the FLP may increase the purposes and duration of leave and decrease the number of escorts.
Decisions to grant leave are very specific and time limited. Any changes and extensions to leave and need to be sought by the patient through further, separate applications to the FLP.
When granting leave for forensic patients, the FLP takes into consideration how the leave will contribute to the patient’s rehabilitation and the impacts the leave will have on the safety of the patient and members of the public.
The FLP also places various conditions on leave that it considers appropriate according to each application. Conditions commonly relate to:
- how many, if any, escorts are required
- the duration and frequency of leave
- where a patient or resident may go (or where they may not go)
- those who, if any, can meet with a patient or resident
- how a patient or resident is to travel to their leave destination
- drug and alcohol testing following leave.
Leave can be suspended wholly or partly at any time by the Chief Psychiatrist if he is satisfied that the safety of any person will be seriously endangered.
Forensicare hospital staff can also withhold patient leave if there are concerns about the patient’s mental state or risk.
Taking day leave
Before every episode of leave, forensic patients must undergo careful examination (conducted by Forensicare hospital staff) of their mental state as well as range of issues relating to the individuals and public safety.
Notifications of day leave
Forensicare, like any other hospital and mental health facility, must meet the provisions under the Mental Health Act 2014 and the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014. It is therefore unable to provide family members or members of the community with specific information related to its patients. This includes details about patient day leave.
The Witness Assistance Service of the Office of Public Prosecutions plays an important role in assisting victims and family members.
Please contact the Witness Assistance Service you require further information or have any concerns about the community leave process.