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S32 Step By Step Guide

About support plans

There is no requirement under the MHFPAMental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act 1990 NSW for a support plan, however, the court will generally require a plan when exercising its discretion and dealing with a matter by way of section 32.

Support plan vs. treatment plan

In applications for people suffering from a mental illness, the term 'treatment plan' is frequently used. However, as intellectual disability is not a disease that can be medically treated, the term 'support plan' is more appropriate when making section 32 applications for people with intellectual disability. You should be alert to the fact that magistrates may be more familiar with the term 'treatment plan'.

    The support plan may address issues such as
  • living skills
  • counselling
  • education opportunities
  • accommodation, drop-in support services in the client's independent accommodation
  • recreation, employment, day programs
  • behavioural therapy
  • drug and alcohol services

A support plan will outline current supports and additional support that is to be put in place to assist your client to avoid or reduce the likelihood of attracting similar charges in the future.

Support plans should provide sufficient detail to the Court to enable the Court to identify who is going to provide treatment or support to the Defendant or should name the specific place a person is required to attend for the provision of such support or treatment. In DPP (NSW) v Saunders [2017] NSWSC 760 an order dismissing a charge pursuant to s 32 (3) (b) was set aside where a specified person or place to attend was not identified.

Ideally your client will commence some or all aspects of the support plan before the finalisation of the matter in court. This could be a tangible demonstration of your client's cooperation and the effectiveness of the plan.

Involving your client

The best support plan is one that your client is likely to comply with.

    It is crucial that
  • the plan is designed around the client's needs
  • the client is involved in the preparation of the plan
  • you have taken the time to find out what your client thinks of the plan
  • the client agrees with the plan
  • the client is willing to comply with the parts of the plan that could become conditions in a section 32 order
  • that the proposed order does not include conditions that your client does not agree to comply with

This should be a fundamental part of the process of developing a support plan for any disability organisation or professional.

Getting disability servicesTypes of plans

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