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Mental Illness Issues

Identity Rights

Overview:

The right to a name is basic to being human, being of worth and having a place in society. Without a name you have no unique reference point for others to relate to. However in the mental health area this right is conditional on the permission of the Health authorities, as an expression of their concern for the reputation of the consumer. In practice it only protects the Health authorities from criticism with secrecy and no media examination of Tribunal hearings. This is a touchpoint showing the lack of respect in mental health. Justice Action took this issue to the Supreme Court for Saeed Dezfouli, and finally won in a Tribunal hearing involving ABC lawyers.

Here is the original submission in his case, with an examination of the laws.

We have had to remove some of the details here under the threats of the NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal, but will supply more on request. 

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Social Support Rights

visiting rights

Overview:

Maintaining adequate connections with the outside world is an essential right for any patient isolated with limited human contact. Mental health patients are legally entitled to rehabilitative care and support, not punishment based treatment. Therefore to withhold visitation rights of a patient, which is an essential aspect of their social devolvement during the rehabilitative process, is an unethical infringement upon patient’s rights. It is not only important for the patient, but also their family and the individuals of the community impacted by their disorder.

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Institutionalised Abuse


Due to a request from the Mental Health Review Tribunal, the Justice Action team was forced to remove the names of persons related to the proceedings. Our plaintiff’s name has been replaced with ‘A’. This occurs despite the clear wishes of A to have his name publicised and the basic entitlement to freely and publicly criticise the abuses of justice done to him.

On Thursday, 27 July 2013, the Mental Health Review Tribunal chaired by an ex-Supreme Court Justice conducted a hearing for the case of A with A’s psychiatrists. Representing for the hospital was the head of the treating team, a nurse, a registrar and others. Solicitor Peter O’Brien and 2 members of Justice Action were also there to support A. Justice Action’s publication of Mad in Australia was distributed to the hearing’s attendees.

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Crisis Intervention Proposal

Proposal for Intervention in Mental Health Crises

roni levi


A paper presented at Community Justice Coalition and International Commission of Jurists (Aust) event  ‘BEDLAM: A hypothetical journey through the Justice and Mental Health Systems’ held on 29 September 2012.

This leaflet download highlights problem areas of the current Criminal Justice and Mental Health systems and raises possible solutions.

In a situation when a person feels disturbed or others feel disturbed by a person’s behaviour, it is most often handled by social processes in the person’s immediate community. At times, help is requested from outside organizations. The starkest failures have occurred after referral to police.

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Visiting Rights for Consumers

visiting rights

Visiting an incarcerated patient breaks down the social isolation of detainees by providing physical, mental, and emotional support. Maintaining adequate connections with the outside world is an essential right for any patient isolated with limited human contact. In practice, access to patients in the forensic hospital is all but denied. Our history of attempts describes the experience. Mental health patients are legally entitled to rehabilitative care and support, not punishment based treatment. Therefore to withhold visitation rights of a patient, which is an essential aspect of their social devolvement during the rehabilitative process, is an unethical infringement upon patient’s rights. When compared with prisoners, qualification as a mental health patient entitles one to a different standard level of care. It is not only important for the patient, but also their family and the individuals of the community impacted by their disorder.

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9th National Forum of Seclusion and Restraint

Report on the 9th National Seclusion and Restraint Reduction Forum

 

The 9th National Seclusion and Restraint Reduction Forum in Canberra on the 28th and 29th of November, 2013 addressed the issues surrounding the overpowering of mental health consumers in Australia and offered alternatives to seclusion and restraint. At the end of the first day, the Chair of the National Mental Health Commission, Alan Fels, presented the National Seclusion and Restraint Declaration.

 

The declaration asserted that “seclusion and restraint of people with mental health problems is a human rights issue”, it is “not therapeutic” and it is “distressing to everyone involved.” It called for change.

 

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National Recognition of Mad in Australia

Justice Action has achieved a considerable victory! This comes from the National Mental Health Commission who, in their 2nd Report Card, has quoted our work "Mad in Australia" as expressing the voices of the people in the justice system regarding mental health. It says that those views and stated needs must be incorporated in any promising practice for changed policies in a failed system, costing up to $1,000,000 a person a year.

This means that we will now be listened to, rather than excluded as an illegitimate outsider, with no power, especially regarding the most unpopular and socially excluded people in the community. This acknowledgement is now being used as leverage in negotiations with bureaucracies within the criminal justice sytem and government.

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Forced Medication in Australia: An International Perspective

Numerous international recommendations and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) condemn forcible medication, yet it continues to be allowed under Australian law. Australia is the only country of the 79 that have ratified UNCRPD to reserve its right to forcibly medicate the disabled. For our media release click here.

Australia is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and has done a lot to improve the standards and mechanisms for people with disabilities in Australia. However there is still more to be done according to the recent observations (see links attached*) the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the body of human rights experts tasked with monitoring the implementation of the Convention).  

*Links:

Click here for a PDF copy of this article.

Click here for a DOCX copy of this article.

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