The RANZCP is proud to work in two countries with strong commitments to human rights. Australia and New Zealand are both parties to core international human rights treaties including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The RANZCP urges Australia to take similar steps to those taken by New Zealand in implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to provide meaningful action to accompany their support.
While significant progress has been made globally, we continue to see incidents of people’s basic human rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of movement and the right to autonomy, denied. Too frequently these violations of rights are committed against women and the minority and historically disadvantaged groups. The denial of human rights can impact one’s social determinants of mental health, especially where it limits access to education, employment, and social inclusion.
Both Australia and New Zealand have colonial histories with severe human rights abuses. While there has been significant and commendable progress, equal protection of human rights for all people is not yet a reality. Historically disadvantaged populations in Australia and New Zealand continue to suffer from discrimination and unfair treatment. Australia has an indefensible record regarding the human rights abuses committed against asylum seekers Australia continues to indefinitely detain. These practices are never acceptable, and we all must work towards a future where the human rights of all are upheld.
The RANZCP is an active member of the World Psychiatric Association and believes in international cooperation amongst all nations. The countries of the world today are more connected than ever before, the impacts of human rights violations in one country are now felt across the world. The RANZCP urges organisations, governments, and individuals to recognise misinformation and victim blaming and to hold nations that perpetrate human rights violations to account.
Furthermore, the RANZCP believes that Australia must cooperate with the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, to meet obligations under the Optional Protocol of the Convention against Torture (OPCAT), which the Australian Government ratified in 2017. OPCAT’s recent decision to suspend its visit to Australia is a significant setback for Australia’s record on human rights. The RANZCP supports all Australian states and territories to work with OPCAT to protect human rights and foster trust in Australia’s prisons, detention centres and psychiatric facilities.
The RANZCP is supportive of efforts to minimise and where possible eliminate the use of seclusion and restraint. The RANZCP encourages transparency to prevent the human rights violations of people in civil and criminal detention, particularly in immigration detention, and adult correctional centres, youth detention centres. The RANZCP believes compulsory treatment should only occur in limited circumstances where the safety of the patients and others is at serious risk and rigorous oversight is in place. It should be administered by trained health staff in appropriate facilities and should never occur in prisons
The RANZCP continues to promote human rights, anti-racism, and gender equity for all communities, particularly within psychiatric practice.
For all other expert mental health information visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.
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The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists is a membership organisation that prepares medical specialists in the field of psychiatry, supports and enhances clinical practice, advocates for people affected by mental illness and advises governments and other groups on mental health care. For information about our work, our members or our history, visit www.ranzcp.org.
In Australia: If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or www.lifeline.org.au or the Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467 or www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au.
In Aotearoa New Zealand: If you or someone you know needs help, 1737 is here to help, for free - Mental Health. You can also contact Lifeline NZ on 0800 543 354 or www.lifeline.org.nz or the Suicide Crisis Helpline on 0508 828 865 or www.lifeline.org.nz/suicide-prevention.