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Law in Context

Abstract from Volume 17 No 2 (2000) Explorations on Law and Disability in Australia

Mental Illness - Freedom and Treatment

Julian Gardner

Gardner considers the tension between the rights of people with mental illness and their need for treatment. As treating people with mental illness often involves civil detention, which is a clear violation of the freedom of the individual concerned, he argues that pragmatism in the course of treatment is inappropriate. A careful balance needs to be achieved between the patient's right to autonomy and freedom, and their need for medical treatment. Just as attention must be paid to ensuring that detention is only used as a matter of last resort, the over use of community treatment orders is itself problematic. Gardner argues that the authority which makes the decisions about involuntary treatment needs to be open to public scrutiny and to be accountable within the legal process for its decision-making.

(2000) 17(2) Law in Context 120
Keywords: Discrimination; Civil Liberties

Full text available on Digital Editions

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