Involuntary treatment, Australian law & real lives: a public conversation

In an interview with ABC Radio National Life Matters program in late November, the Centre for Psychiatric Nursing's Cath Roper and Director of The University of Melbourne’s Social Equity Institute Prof. Bernadette McSherry discussed Australian law, policy and practice around involuntary treatment for mental illness, and the lived experience of receiving treatment without consent.

Cath Roper spoke to the issue from the perspective of her own experiences of involuntary admission and treatment - which occurred over a thirteen-year period during the 1980s and 1990s - and makes the point that treatment without consent “is going to be administered violently: there is just no way around that”.

She makes the case that, “as a society, we have to take some responsibility … for thinking: what message [does] that send a person seeking help, when that help is delivered with violence?”. Cath also highlights the tendency for involuntarily treatment to be framed as ‘necessary’, and calls for debate on what ‘necessary’ means when “we don’t have good alternatives …[which] would mean that we could look to something else and actually have some choices”.

Listen back to the full interview (18 minutes).