When it comes to mental health care, there are many “firsts” that a person may experience. For example, the first time a person is given a diagnosis for a mental health condition or on their first presentation at a hospital or clinic for treatment. Each experience can be quite confronting, overwhelming, and distressing for both the person, their family, and significant others.
Whether receiving treatment from a GP or from a hospital the Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights states every person, their family, or significant other has the right to be included in their care and treatment, to ask questions, and to offer information that could assist the Doctor or treating team providing an understanding of what brought the person to the service.
Every person has the right to:
- Receive clear information about their health condition and treatment options.
- Ask questions.
- Offer information that could assist the Doctor or treating team.
- Receive access to their personal health records, (it is important to note that each service will have different procedures for accessing personal information. This can take time, is not always easy to do, and the amount of information given will differ).
- And to be provided with assistance, if needed, to help them to better understand the information.
Your Rights in each State and Territory:
In each state and territory, there are different resources available to help a person understand their rights. Some of these resources explain a person’s rights in simple language according to the relevant Mental Health Act, while others focus on a person’s rights when they are in a hospital.
- South Australia: “getting OUR Rights right, Right?”
- New South Wales: The Mental Health Rights Manual
- Western Australia: Know your rights
- Northern Territory: Hospital Inpatient Rights
- Queensland: Mental Health Act 2016, Statement of Rights for patients in mental health services
- Victoria: Legal Aid- Mental Health and Your Rights OR Your Advocacy Guide
- Tasmania: Statement of Rights for Patients
- Australian Capital Territory: The ACT Charter of Rights for people who experience Mental Health Issues.
Additional information can also be found on the Legislation and Your Rights page.
Did You Know?
You can be part of the decisions about your treatment.
You can speak up if you have concerns or complaints about your mental health care.
You can get help from independent advocates or support services to understand and protect your rights in mental health care?
You have the right to receive clear information about your diagnosis, the options for treatment, and what you can expect from those treatments?
While the use of restrictive practices is less common nowadays, they are still employed. But what exactly are they? The National Mental Health Consumer & Carer Forum state that restrictive practices are “the implementation of any practice or practices that restrict an individual’s movement, liberty and/or freedom to act independently without coercion or consequence.” Example of restrictive practices can be found here.
For more information regarding restrictive practices within the NDIS visit the NDIS Commission.
Navigating mental health care can be an overwhelming experience for the person, their family, or their significant other. However, it is important to remember that everyone involved has the right to ask questions and suggest changes to care.
There is different information available in each State and Territory to help people to understand their rights. It can be helpful to become familiar with the information that is relevant and for the person, their families, or significant others to ask for assistance when they need it or feel their rights are not being met.
Do the research, ask for help, and speak up.Find an advocacy support service