5. Role and Function of the Chief Psychiatrist

The roles of Chief Civil Psychiatrist and Chief Forensic Psychiatrist as provided for under the Act are both undertaken by the incumbent to the State Service role of Chief Psychiatrist.  The role of Chief Psychiatrist sits within the Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Directorate, as part of the Department of Health and Human Services, and is responsible for providing high level specialist advice about mental health policy and clinical practice to the Minister, across the Department, to Tasmanian Health Organisations and to other operating units as appropriate.

Broadly speaking, the functions of the Chief Psychiatrist fall into the following domains:

  1. Legislative and policy
  2. Strategic quality improvement
  3. Reform
  4. Information and clinical performance

The Chief Psychiatrist was appointed as Chief Forensic Psychiatrist under the Mental Health Act 1996 in August 2013 and became Chief Forensic Psychiatrist under the Act by virtue of section 6 of the Mental Health (Transitional and Consequential Provisions) Act 2013, on 17 February 2014.

The Chief Psychiatrist was appointed as Chief Civil Psychiatrist as provided for under the Act by the Governor with effect from the Act’s commencement on 17 February 2014.

The Chief Psychiatrists are responsible under and to the Minister for ensuring that the objects of the Act are met in respect of relevant patients and for the running of approved facilities.

To do this, the Chief Psychiatrists undertake a range of functions including approving forms for use under relevant provisions of the Act, issuing Standing Orders and Clinical Guidelines under sections 151 and 152 of the Act and intervening directly with regard to the assessment, treatment and care of any patient with respect to prescribed matters under section 147 of the Act.

The Chief Psychiatrists have a particular role regarding seclusion, restraint, use of force, leave, visiting, correspondence and telephone rights and assessment and treatment generally, and may issue consequential directions for the future assessment, treatment and care of patients.

The Chief Psychiatrists have an additional statutory role concerning the transfer of patients to secure institutions or approved facilities and the appointment of people to particular statutory roles under the Act.