How the statutory health attorney provision in Mental Health Act 2016 (Qld) is incompatible with human rights

Australas Psychiatry. 2021 Feb;29(1):72-74. doi: 10.1177/1039856220968406. Epub 2020 Nov 19.

Abstract

Objective: Mental Health Act 2016 (Qld) (MHA 2016) includes many 'less restrictive ways' to minimise involuntary/compulsory treatment. One such measure, the statutory health attorney, has been adopted from the Powers of Attorney Act 1998 (Qld). This paper analyses the statutory health attorney provision against the human rights framework adopted by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Method: The statutory health attorney provision was analysed against the CRPD article 12 (equal recognition before the law).

Results: The statutory health attorney provision is not based on the will and preferences of the individual, is not free from conflict of interest and is not subject to the required safeguards.

Conclusion: The use of a statutory health attorney brings mental health and physical health under the same provision (the fusion law/proposal). However, the statutory health attorney provision is not compatible with the contemporary human rights framework adopted by the CRPD.

Keywords: human rights; medical/psychiatric ethics; mental health law; substitute decision-making.

MeSH terms

  • Disabled Persons*
  • Human Rights
  • Humans
  • Lawyers
  • Mental Disorders* / therapy
  • Mental Health
  • United Nations