September 25, 2022

Psychiatrists slate law to seek children’s consent

Psychiatrists have criticised draft West Australian laws that would require mentally ill children as young as 12 to consent to sterilisation, electroconvulsive therapy and psychosurgery.

Psychiatrists have criticised draft West Australian laws that would require mentally ill children as young as 12 to consent to sterilisation, electroconvulsive therapy and psychosurgery. While parents may be consulted, legal experts warn that they might not have the right to refuse the treatments – some of which have not been commonly used in Australia for 6 decades – under the draft laws. Patrick McGorry, an adolescent mental health expert, said there would need to be “a very carefully argued case” for anyone under 15 to be considered mature enough to be able to consent to such treatments. “I don’t think I’d be very comfortable about that,” Professor McGorry told The Australian.

The draft legislation, which will be introduced into West Australian parliament later this year, is based on a decade-old review of the state’s mental health services. Prior laws were criticised for being silent on how mentally ill children should be treated. The review called for laws to be changed to take into account Article 12 of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, which states a child with the ability to form his or her views has the right to express them freely in all matters affecting the child. A spokesperson for WA Health and Disability Services Minister Helen Morton said the draft bill was undergoing a consultation process and that it is likely “things will be taken out once that consultation is finalised”. ~ The Australian, Mar 13

Psychiatrists slate law to seek children’s consent
Jared Yee
Australia
informed consent
law
psychiatry