Authors: Leanne Beagley, Cassandra Seery, Piers Gooding, Anina Johnson, Simon Katterl
Event: 2022 TheMHS Conference
Subject: human rights, first nations, lived experience, indigenous, best practice
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: FEATURED SYMPOSIUM: Making Rights Real: Practical Steps to Realising Human Rights in Australia and New Zealand in a Mental Health Context
There is general agreement that Australia and NZ could be doing more to protect and promote the human rights of people experiencing severe mental health issues and social emotional distress. However, there is less agreement about what steps are necessary to realise those rights. In this symposium presenters will discuss what role stigma, discrimination, the funding of services, regulatory bodies, mental health law, the organisational culture of services and other factors play in negatively impacting the lives of consumers and their families and carers and supporters.
In this symposium we will discuss what kind of principles and best practice approaches will ensure people experiencing services that are safe, effective, respectful and whether they underpinned by human rights and minimise or eliminate coercion? One ethical question this gives rise to is whether it’s ever appropriate to use force to administer either chemical or restraining interventions, about which there is disagreement, including among people with lived experience of mental health and co-existing conditions? Similarly, what constitutes the role of personal responsibility in this context?
Mental health laws across the region have variously failed to meet our international obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD has led to some legislative amendments, but these reforms have not led to any significant reduction in rates of involuntary treatment or restrictive practices. Further, two and a half years of the Covid pandemic has placed the health system and its workforce under serious pressure. There are even signs that human rights have been further compromised for people seeking access to both acute and community-based services. Increased use of seclusion and restraint and use of involuntary orders is being reported, across the country. These measures not only place people using services at greater risk of trauma and re-traumatisation but repeated violation of their human rights. In this session, panellists will discuss the extent to which a Tribunal can offer a human rights safety net, and how can consumers and carers and clinicians prepare for a tribunal hearing that effectively supports the upholding of a person’s human rights?
In this symposium, presenters from various jurisdictions with lived experience and expertise in clinical practice, legal, advocacy and research endeavours in a mental health and human rights context will explore and debate practical steps toward realising human rights, in an effort to ‘make rights real’ in the lives of people experiencing severe mental health issues and social emotional distress. Perspectives from First Nations, consumer and legal standpoints in this Symposium offers participants an opportunity to take part in a cutting-edge reform and ethics debate at the heart of many people’s experiences of the mental health service system.
Dr Cassandra Seery: Legal academic, researcher and social policy professional, specialising in First Nations’ justice
Topic: Issues in rights-based mental health care for First Nations citizens
Dr Piers Gooding: Research Fellow at the Melbourne Law School, and an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow
Topic: Coercion and the International Human Rights Context
Anina Johnson: Law Enforcement Conduct Commissioner NSW
Topic: The role of a Tribunal in upholding Human Rights
Simon Katterl: Mental health and human rights consultant, Lived Experience Consultant and Advocate, Nat Stigma & Discrimination Reduction Strategy Member
Topic: Human rights by design
Facilitated by Leanne Beagley, CEO Mental Health Australia