The Urgent Need to Review the use of CTOs and Compliance with the UNCRPD Across Australian Jurisdictions
In every Australian jurisdiction, legislation permits mental health service providers and/or mental health tribunals to force people with mental illness to engage in treatment, under Community Treatment Orders (CTOs). Despite considerable efforts made by every Australian state and territory to meet human rights obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) (2008; Maylea & Hirsch, 2017), Australia has rates of CTO usage that are very high by world standards (Light, 2019). Even within Australia, rates of CTO usage vary considerably between and within jurisdictions in spite of the legislation being very similar (Light, 2019; Adult mental health quarterly KPI report, 2019). This occurs in the context of mixed evidence about the efficacy of CTOs and a lack of clear understanding of their purpose (Segal et al., 2017; Kisely et al., 2017). The use of CTOs remains one of the most contentious issues in mental health service delivery. Not only is their efficacy unresolved, they also raise serious ethical and human rights concerns. The current debates, and attempts at reform, must be informed by valid and reliable data. This brief commentary will make the case for a research agenda that addresses the minimal research that has been undertaken to address the variations of CTO use across Australian jurisdictions.
Copyright (c) 2022 Lisa Brophy, Vrinda Edan, Steve Kisely, Sharon Lawn, Edwina Light, Chris Maylea, Giles Newton-Howes, Christopher James Ryan, Penelope June Weller, Tessa-May Zirnsak
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