Pushing the Boundaries: Realising Rights Through Mental Health Tribunal Processes?
Sydney Law Review, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 329-356, 2008
42 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2008 Last revised: 28 Dec 2019
Date Written: September 14, 2008
Mental health jurisprudence traditionally was more concerned to protect negative or 'liberty' rights than to advance positive rights of access to needed mental health care and treatment. North American test case litigation contributed to advances in the quality of mental health and other services in some instances, but the record is patchy. Socio-legal studies of mental health tribunal operations in England and Wales suggest that health paradigms are dominant, and that legal norms and standards may be weak reeds in this setting. This article reviews the diverse legislative models in three main Australian jurisdictions before examining fieldwork data on the extent to which Australian mental health tribunal 'push the boundaries' of the law in order to obtain favourable treatment outcomes. It argues that, contrary to overseas experience, Australian tribunals merely 'nudge', rather than disturb, the legal boundaries.
Keywords: mental health, treatment access, legal leverage, law in action, reform
JEL Classification: I10, I18, K10, K30, K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation