The Tribunal has a President and Tribunal members who make decisions under the Act.
When the Tribunal holds hearings, it usually sits in panels of three. One member of the panel is a lawyer, one is a psychiatrist, and the third is a community member.
Tribunal members are independent statutory officers appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of the Minister. They do not work for the hospital or health service treating the patient.
President – Ms Karen Whitney
The current President of the Tribunal is Karen Whitney. She is a legal member appointed on 30 December 2017 for five years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology (University of Southern Maine), a Juris Doctor (Vermont Law School), and a Master of Laws (University of Western Australia). She also holds a postgraduate qualification in business leadership. Ms Whitney was admitted to practise law in the United States (Virginia and District of Columbia) in 1991 and in Western Australia in 2002. Before joining the Mental Health Tribunal, she was a full-time Member of the WA State Administrative Tribunal sitting in all areas of SAT’s jurisdiction. Before joining SAT she served as Principal Assistant Ombudsman Investigations and Legal Services with the WA Ombudsman, and Manager (Investigations) with the Legal Profession Complaints Committee. Prior to this she was a full-time Senior Lecturer in Law at UWA, where she taught Criminal Law, Medicine and the Law, and Feminist Analysis of Law. Ms Whitney is an accredited mediator.
The Tribunal has two full-time legal members, three active part-time legal members, and six active sessional legal members.
Jeanette (Jen) de Klerk
Mrs de Klerk is a full-time legal member appointed on 29 October 2019 for five years. She will commence in this role on 2 December 2019. Prior to her recent appointment as a full-time legal member, Mrs de Klerk was a sessional legal member of the Tribunal since 2014. She holds a Bachelor of Laws (University of Auckland) and was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor in the High Court in Auckland in 2007, and in the Supreme Court of Western Australia in 2011. Mrs de Klerk is an experienced criminal lawyer and accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, and previously worked for the Public Defence Service and as a Barrister in New Zealand. In 2011 she joined Legal Aid WA as a criminal lawyer and in recent years has been able to act in other roles such as Chairperson for Alternative Dispute Resolution Conferences (child and property matters). She is a legal representative on the WA Country Health Service Human Research Ethics Committee. Mrs de Klerk is also a Registered Comprehensive Nurse and has over a decade of experience in acute mental health settings as a nurse and as an after hours hospital duty manager.
Ms Woodward is a full-time legal member appointed from 1 February 2020 for five years. She commenced in this role on 3 February 2020. Ms Woodward was admitted to practise in the Supreme Court of Victoria on 3 November 1999, and was employed as a generalist lawyer in country Victoria before commencing with Victoria Legal Aid in July 2002. Ms Woodward held a number of positions at Victoria Legal Aid, practising primarily as a criminal law advocate, representing adults and children. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (criminal justice) (RMIT), Bachelor of Laws (LaTrobe Universty) and Masters of Human Rights Law (Monash University). She is an accredited criminal law specialist (2008). Prior to commencing with the Tribunal Camille was a sessional member with the Victorian Mental Health Tribunal for nearly 10 years.
Ms Findson is a part-time legal member appointed on 1 December 2020 for five years. She was previously a sessional member appointed in 2019.
Ms Kannis is a part-time legal member appointed on 29 October 2019 for five years. She holds a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Jurisprudence and a Bachelor of Commerce, all of which were awarded by the University of Western Australia. Christine was admitted to practise law in Western Australia in 1981.
Ms Kannis is also currently a part-time Member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and hears matter in the Migration Review Division and the Social Security & Child Support Division. Before joining the AAT she served as deputy chair of the Prisoners Review Board and as a part-time Member of the Social Security Appeals Tribunal. Previously Ms Kannis was the chair of the Optometrists Registration Board of W.A. and she has served as a Member of the Community Advisory Committee at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.
Her Honour Catherine (Kate) O’Brien
Her Honour Kate O’Brien is a part-time legal member appointed on 29 October 2019 for five years. She graduated from the University of Western Australia with degrees of Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Jurisprudence (Hons.) and was admitted to practise law in 1977. Ms O’Brien was appointed as a judge of the District Court in 1999 and served until May 2010. During her time as a judge, Ms O’Brien was President of the Childrens Court for two years. Prior to her appointment to the Bench, Ms O’Brien had practised law for over 20 years, specialising in criminal law. She established her own firm, ultimately practising at the independent bar. During her career, Ms O’Brien was Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody for three years and served for two extended periods as a consultant to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, primarily in the area of enforcement. She was also Deputy President of the (then) Equal Opportunity Tribunal for 10 years and later served as a Senior Sessional Member of the State Administrative Tribunal (Human Rights Stream).
Sessional Legal Members
Harriette Benz (since 2011)
Andrea McCallum (since 2014)
Michael Nicholls QC (since 2011)
Anne Seghezzi (since 1998)
Merranie Strauss (since 2011)
Jennifer Wall (since 2011)
The Tribunal has 12 active sessional psychiatrist members:
Dr Dawn Barker (since 2015)
Dr Ann Bell (since 1999)
Dr Julie (Nadine) Caunt (since 2019)
Dr Rowan Davidson (since 2016)
Dr Daniel De Klerk (since 2012)
Dr Kevin Dodd (since 2011)
Dr David Lord (since 2016)
Dr Helen Milroy (since 2019)
Dr Mircea Schineanu (since 2017)
Dr Bryan Tanney (since 2005)
Dr Kavitha Vijayalakshmi Lakshminarayanan (since 2019)
Dr Helen Ward (since 2017)
The Tribunal has two full-time community members, two part-time community members, and 14 sessional community members.
Teresa (Ted) Ellis
Ms Ellis is a full-time community member appointed on 29 October 2019 for five years. She commenced in this role on 11 November 2019.
Dr Michael (Lenney) Lenney
Lenney (his preferred name) was appointed a full-time community member on 29 October 2019 for five years. He holds a Bachelor of Social Science (1st Class Honors) in Youth Work and Disability, and a Doctor of Philosophy (Edith Cowan University). His research focused on difference, identity and stigma. He has lectured and tutored at Edith Cowan University and the University of Western Australia. Prior to joining the Mental Health Tribunal Lenney was a specialised Youth Mental Health Advocate for the Mental Health Advocacy Service. He has had an extensive career in the Public Sector working for the Mental Health Commission as a Senior Policy Officer; for the Health and Disability Services Complaints Office as a conciliator; for the Victim-Offender Unit as a Mediation Officer where he worked extensively in the Kimberley; and for the Office of the Public Advocate as an investigator.
Ms Kaur is a part-time community member appointed on 29 October 2019 for five years. Prior to her recent appointment as a part-time community member, Ms Kaur was a sessional community member of the Tribunal since 2011.
The Hon Keith Wilson AM
Mr Wilson is a part-time community member appointed on 29 October 2019 for five years. Prior to his recent appointment, Mr Wilson was a sessional community member of the Tribunal since 2014. He is a former Member of the WA Parliament (1977 – 1993) and a Member of State Cabinet (1983 – 1992) including 5 years as Minister for Health. He earlier worked as an Anglican Priest (1962 – 1976) and a School Teacher (1956 – 1958). He served as Chair of the Mental Health Council of Australia (2000 – 2006) and the WAAMH (1999 – 2006) and as a Board Member of MIFWA , the Ministerial Advisory Council on Disability and St John of God Health Care. He is currently a Director of the mental health charity, Meeting for Minds. He was awarded the Centenary Medal for service to mental health in government in 2001 and made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2009 for service to people with mental illness and their carers.
Sessional Community Members
Alan Alford (since 2011)
Jennifer Bridge-Wright (since 2014)
Reverend Rodger Bull (since 2005)
Donna Dean (since 2011)
Stuart Flynn (since 2011)
John Gardiner (since 2011)
Susan Grace (since 2014)
Emeritus Prof. David Hawks AM (since 1998)
John James (since 2005)
Lorrae Loud (since 2016)
David Rowell (since 2005)
Leone Shiels (since 2011)
Anthony Warner AM LVO (since 2005)
Ann White (since 2011)
Page reviewed 15 February 2021