Mental health draft (WA) detrimental to children
The West Australian
March 22 2012
WA’s Commissioner for Children and Young People has recommended an overhaul of draft laws which propose children as young as 12 could consent to treatments such as electroconvulsive therapy, psychosurgery and sterilisation without parental permission.
In a public submission to the Mental Health Commission about the State Government’s draft Mental Health Bill, Commission for Children and Young People Michelle Scott made 27 recommendations for changes to the Bill, including that electroconvulsive therapy and psychosurgery be banned on anyone under the age of 18.
Ms Scott also wrote that she strongly opposed provisions of the draft Bill which enabled a child of any age who is suffering from a mental illness to provide informed consent to sterilisation, recommending that all references to sterilisation be deleted from the Bill.
She recommended the Mental Health Commission undertake further research and consultation on the consent provisions in the Bill.
“Given the complexity and extent of the issues covered by the draft legislation coupled with the significant departure from the recommendations of the Holman Review, it is my view that a second consultation phase is required. Following consideration of the submissions received, a second draft should be published by the Mental Health Commission,” she wrote.
Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said since the draft Bill was released for public consultation, the Mental Health Commission had received at least 1000 submissions.
“These submissions, along with feedback received from the consultation forum, will form the basis for any necessary redrafting,” she said.
“There are clauses in the draft Bill that people are applauding and others which have elicited a range of views about changes to the Bill which we will seek to accommodate.”
Ms Morton said further consideration was taking place about how “the common law concept of a mature minor, which operates Australia wide will be dealt with in the final bill”.
Opposition leader Mark McGowan said the Bill was “sloppy, dangerous and a threat to common human decency” and the Government needed to redraft it immediately.
“The Bill fails to secure the needs of mental health consumers such as more beds, funding and specialist services,” he said.
“They are the type of laws that take you back to that classic Jack Nicholson move One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The difference here is that these laws are also extremely detrimental to children.”
The concerns follow an advertising campaign by the Church of Scientology urging people to raise their concerns about the draft Bill with their local MP, the Health Minister and Mental Health Minister.
Ms Scott said she supported the reform of mental health legislation in WA and her priority was for legislation to provide adequate safeguards for the care, treatment and protection of children and young people with a mental illness.
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