Australian mental health legislation is increasingly influenced by human rights considerations and international obligations. This is particularly so for the three jurisdictions, including Queensland, which have enacted human rights legislation. This has consequences for the formulation and interpretation of statutory criteria that are utilised for imposition of involuntary status for inpatients and outpatients, for the use of coercive measures within mental health units, and for the obligations of bodies such as mental health tribunals. It also affects the role of complaints bodies. In the aftermath of the 2021 Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, and important superior court decisions, it is timely to revisit the content of human rights that are relevant to mental health service provision and where the appropriate balances are to be located in terms of enhancing the provision of respectful, efficacious and necessary mental health services.
Ian Freckelton is a Queen’s Counsel in full-time practice as a barrister throughout Australia. He regularly appears in the Queensland Supreme Court and Court of Appeal and is currently briefed in relation to implementation issues from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.
Ian is an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, the Academy of Social Sciences Australia and the Australasian College of Legal Medicine. He is also the Editor of the Journal of Law and Medicine and the Founding Editor of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law. He is the author of over 40 books and more than 700 articles and chapters of books on many subjects, including medical law, mental health law, evidence law, tort law, administrative law and criminal law. His edited collection with Belinda Bennett, Pandemics, Public Health Emergencies and Government Powers is currently in press with Federation Press.
On the 14th of June, 2021, Ian was named an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
You can watch the keynote presentation on the ACHLR website.