Of the 149 submissions tendered to the Parliamentary Inquiry into mental health care in NSW, only the Tribunal actually making  the forced treatment orders say they are good. Last year it had 6,500 hearings agreeing to almost 90% (p25). It said: 

There have been many hearings where the Tribunal is presented with evidence that the CTO has provided benefits to consumers’ p.9

Presumably that evidence was provided by the Health Dept applicants, against the consumer who didn’t want the ‘benefits’. Almost all other submissions call for their abolition replaced by community support services. 47 submissions said they were ineffective, breached human rights, or needed to be changed.

The World Health Organisation and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights this week launched their new guidance on mental health and said

“Ending coercive practices in mental health – such as involuntary detention, forced treatment, seclusion and restraints – is essential in order to respect the right to make decisions about one’s own health care and treatment choices. Moreover, a growing body of evidence sets out how coercive practices negatively impact physical and mental health, often compounding a person’s existing condition while alienating them from their support systems.” The full document is here.

In our submission we call for the withdrawal of the Chief Psychiatrist’s Communique. It is misleading and damaging. Chemical restraint is a sneaky human rights abuse of the most vulnerable making them compliant. Even the peak psychiatrists’ organisation says that forced treatment in prison is wrong” (p11).

Further, all NSW prisoners now have computer tablets or laptops in their cells with managed access to whitelisted websites and communication with their families. Violence against guards is reduced by 60%. Telehealth should give confidential access to publicly funded services for counselling using the import model. Such services use the 16 hours alone in cells, become trusted, are culturally appropriate, are cheap or free and are available upon release. The benefits will be felt in reducing recidivism and making a safer community”.

The second public hearing will be held on Monday 16 October 2023 from 9.15 am until 4.45 pm in the Macquarie Room at NSW Parliament.

For more information about the hearing schedule, please click here.