Your rights in hospital

Human rights issues are common in clinical mental health services. This page has some info about your rights that may help.

EVERYONE HAS FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS

Everyone has fundamental human rights.

Fundamental human rights are there to protect universal principles, like:

  • Equality
  • Safety
  • Dignity
  • Freedom

These rights are fundamental because they belong to all people, and they affect many important aspects of our lives.

There are ‘negative’ fundamental rights. These are rights ‘to be free from’ things we don’t want, like detention or torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

There are also ‘positive’ fundamental rights. These are rights ‘to have access to’ things, like education, an adequate standard of living, or health.

RIGHTS ARE A SHARED IDEA ACROSS THE WORLD

Fundamental human rights came into international law after World War II, when people around the world were confronted with the scale and severity of the Holocaust. The nations of the world came together to create the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

AUSTRALIA DOESN’T HAVE A GREAT RECORD ON HUMAN RIGHTS

Australia has signed (ratified) most of the international laws that uphold human rights. But Australia is not a leading world citizen in human rights:

  • Reviews by the United Nations have criticised Australia on many human rights issues. IN particular Australia has a poor human rights record in our treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, refugees and asylum seekers, and people with disability, including psychosocial disability.
  • Australia does not have a bill of rights like many other countries.
  • While Australia has signed many international laws about rights, we haven’t always implemented laws or changes in our country to make the rights real.

CHARTER OF HUMAN RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES

In 2006, Victoria introduced a Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities into law. It says which rights matter in Victoria (not all human rights were included).

It’s great to have the Charter but it’s got limited value. For example, people are not able to go to court just because rights in the charter were breached. And new laws that intentionally restrict rights, like the Mental Health Act, just have to be justified to parliament.

Read the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.

BREACHES AND RESTRICTIONS

If your rights are taken away without a lawful reason, that’s called a breach of rights. Some people call this a violation or an abuse of rights.

Sometimes in mental health services it’s lawful to restrict or limit our rights, but only under very specific conditions. VMIAC does not support restrictions on human rights.