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Involuntary treatment protections

The Queensland Mental Health Commission is shining a spotlight on the human rights of people receiving involuntary treatment for mental illness in hospital and community settings.

An expert consortium engaged by the Commission has completed the Human rights protection frameworks for people being treated involuntarily for a mental illness project and reported on its findings.

Examining the Mental Health Act 2016

The research explored how Mental Health Act 2016 aims to protect the human rights of people who receive involuntary treatment for a mental illness in hospital and community settings. The 2016 Act replaced the Mental Health Act 2000, which had been in operation for more than 10 years.

The research examined common factors that support or hinder human rights under the 2016 Act.

Researchers interviewed people with lived experience of mental illness, their families and carers; and other stakeholders to understand their experiences of:

  • rights and information for mental health ward inpatients
  • independent patient rights advisers
  • advance health directives
  • the Mental Health Review Tribunal
  • rights and information about involuntary treatment in the community.


The research found the Mental Health Act 2016 strengthened human rights protections and improved alignment with the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The new Act puts Queensland in a strong position compared with other Australian states and territories.

The research report notes that implementing new mental health legislation is complex and some issues can only be identified and considered as they emerge. It highlights the importance of involving people with a lived experience, their carers and family members in all aspects of service planning, delivery, governance and research.

New Human Rights Act

The research began before the introduction of the Queensland Human Rights Act 2019.  

It is anticipated that the complaints process to the Human Rights Commission, available from January 2020, will improve protections and safeguards for all Queenslanders, and particularly for the most vulnerable people receiving involuntary treatment for a mental illness.