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Measuring the impact of revised mental health legislation on human rights in Queensland, Australia

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The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) (CRPD) has been instrumental for initiating and shaping the reform of mental health legislation in many countries, including the eight Australian jurisdictions. Multiple approaches have been proposed to assess and monitor the compliance of States Parties' mental health legislation with the CRPD, and to evaluate its success in protecting and promoting the human rights of people with disabilities. This article reports an effort to index the impact of legislation on human rights by measuring changes in the prevalence of compulsory treatment orders applied to people with mental illness after the introduction of CRPD influenced mental health legislation in the Australian state of Queensland. We found that despite reforms intended to enhance patient autonomy, the prevalence of compulsory treatment orders increased after implementation of the new legislation. Possible reasons behind this unintended consequence of the legislative reform may include a lack of systematized voluntary alternatives to compulsory treatment, a paternalistic and restrictive culture in mental health services and risk aversion in clinicians and society. We recommend that the reforms in mental health policy as well as legislation need to go further in order to achieve the goals embodied in the human rights framework of the CRPD.




Gill, N. S., Amos, A., Muhsen, H., Hatton, J., Ekanayake, C., & Kisely, S. (2020). Measuring the impact of revised mental health legislation on human rights in Queensland, Australia. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 73.

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