Below is a copy of our request for support for Kerry O'Malley that has been distributed to mental health, legal and carer organisations across Australia.
Kerry's support team
We ask you to support Kerry O’Malley’s appeal to the Supreme Court to stop her from being forcibly medicated. If we cannot protect this gentle 74-year-old mother of five from coercive treatment, then we are diminished as a community. Meet her here.
The case of Kerry O’Malley exposes the abuse of vulnerable people by the mental health system. Kerry was told that the law prevented her from being represented before the Mental Health Review Tribunal if she was not a patient. Because she lives at home, and therefore legally isn’t defined as a patient, no-one could represent her or help her examine her file.
The Penrith Health Service gave Kerry thirty minutes to look at six redacted pages instead of the whole file as the law requires. She was accused of sitting in a chemist shop, confused, for six hours. No evidence was given of her being a risk of serious harm to herself or others. In fact she has never hurt herself or anyone else.
The medication “Abilify” makes Kerry feel anxious and unmotivated. She has gained weight, sleeps badly and feels reduced as a person. She has the support of her own doctor, psychologist, family and church and with these to help her she feels safe and asks to be left alone. She said to the Tribunal: “My rights have been overlooked.”
Justice Action has supported her since 2015, when her former psychiatrist asked for our help.
The sitting Tribunal initially gave permission for her primary carer to be recognised as her representative and thus be given access to her file. However, after the treating psychiatrist raised an objection, two Deputy Presidents of the Tribunal overruled that decision and said that no person was allowed representation if they were not a patient locked in hospital.
The Tribunal rejected her proposed alternative plan, which incorporated medical and social intervention strategies to enhance Kerry’s autonomy over her own life and mental health. This was a rejection of the “recovery” approach in favour of the biomedical model of treatment.
Despite the previous psychiatrist’s admission that medication was “probably unnecessary”, the order made on April 1 this year permitted the Health Department to forcibly inject Kerry every month. The Tribunal scheduled a review on 30 September 2020.
Kerry O’Malley’s experience is shared by more than 5,000 people in NSW each year. The imposition of medication may be convenient management, but in fact constitutes serious abuse by the health profession against vulnerable people, whose protections have been brushed aside.
We ask you to assist us with legal representation before the Court, sending us a statement of concern or publicising her case so that it prevents others being treated similarly.