In Australia, all jurisdictions contain mental health laws that permit detention,
compulsory treatment, seclusion and restraint.
These laws, the CRPD Committee has shown in General Comment 1, are incompatible with the CRPD.
Equal recognition before the law is one of the basic principles of the CRPD in Article 12.
Simply put, the right to self-determination and autonomy is routinely violated via mental health laws.
Where the deprivation of our liberty and use of compulsory treatment is legal and from my personal experience includes gross violations of our human rights via the use of seclusion and restraint, involving physically tackling and holding someone down, withholding of mobility aids, mechanical and chemical restraints. Other survivors have been subjected to and are still being subjected to involuntary medications and ECT.
These practices are violent, often resulting in physical injury, trauma, and deaths. We have little to no way of protecting ourselves during, or even after, due to deeply held stigma surrounding mental health that sees our voices as untrustworthy. Courts and reporting processes routinely fail us. We’re not believed.
As stated by the committee “This practice denies the legal capacity of a person to choose medical treatment and is therefore a violation of article 12 of the Convention”.
Acknowledging the past and present harms perpetrated by the mental health system to consumers and survivors, their families and carers is a must.
In my home state of Victoria, the Not Before Time Lived Experience Justice And Repair report has been released publicly, where they’re calling for an establishment of a truth and reconciliation process, to hear the harms of the system, followed by a formal apology from government.
I on behalf of many others with psychosocial disability would appreciate your support with this call, as it will set a precedent so other jurisdictions can follow.
This will provide a challenge to the current system that harm us and set the foundations of rebuilding trust that’s vital to mental health reforms.
Reforms that should always be moving us closer to harmonising mental health laws with the CRPD.
The harmonisation of these laws will see our equal recognition before the law upheld, where our rights to self-determination via independent or supported decision making is legislated, as stated by the Committee.
This week the words “no one left behind” has been said by many times, please don’t leave us behind.