Citizens Committee on Human Rights

The Mental Health Watchdog

Australian National Office

Brutal Rise in Electroshock

Whilst most people are under the impression that electroshock therapy (ECT) is banned in Australia because the mere idea of electroshock is so abhorrent, its use has significantly increased and it is being used on the most vulnerable in society, children and the elderly.

Electroshock is the application of hundreds of volts of electricity to the brain. It can cause severe and permanent memory loss, brain damage, suicide, cardiovascular complications, intellectual impairment and even death.
The figures below indicate the Australian increases for the numbers of Medicare funded electroshock “treatments” 1:

2007 2016 % Increase
Australia: 18,183 33,641 85%
NSW: 4,936 8,039 63%
Vic: 4,895 8,639 76%
Qld: 4,852 9,274 91%
SA: 1,163 2,487 114%
WA: 1,457 4,242 191%

In W.A. its use is banned for under 14 year olds, in A.C.T. it is banned for those under 12 years of age 2 – in NSW and other states there are NO restrictions on what age ECT can be given. For example: In 2013/14 there were 134 electroshocks given to Victorian children aged 10-19 and in Qld in 2014/15 there were 23 treatments given to children aged 10-15.

This barbaric practice continues on Australian children despite the World Health Organisation stating, “There are no indications for the use of ECT on minors, and hence this should be prohibited through legislation.” 3 In March 2017, India correctly banned the use of ECT for all children under 18.4

Parents need to be able to consent to their child’s medical treatment. However various state mental health acts allow for a child to be detained in a psychiatric hospital and given electroshock without their parents’ consent including at a Tribunal who give final approval, a denial of parental rights and a violation of basic human rights.
If there are no safeguards (bans) in the law regarding vulnerable children, they are denied the protection they deserve. Electroshock never addresses the cause of a child’s problem and offers no cure.

CCHR has campaigned for many years against the use of electroshock. Please help end this torturous psychiatric practice. Contact your local Member of Parliament no matter which state you live in and ask them to take action to amend your state’s mental health act to immediately ban the use of electroshock on children under 18, pregnant women and the elderly.

If you live in NSW we invite you to print off, sign and return our petition to ban this destructive practice at: http://cchr.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/NSW-Mental-Health-Act-Petition.pdf

For further information on electroshock, read CCHR’s information sheet: “Brain Damaging Effects of Electroshock: the Facts” http://cchr.org.au/articles/brain-damaging-effects-of-electroshock-the-facts


References

  1. Use the electroconvulsive therapy Medicare Item code (14224) to obtain Medicare Statistics using this link: http://medicarestatistics.humanservices.gov.au/statistics/mbs_item.jsp

    Medicare Item Code for electroconvulsive therapy (14224) can be found here: http://www.mbsonline.gov.au/internet/mbsonline/publishing.nsf/Content/Home
  2. Western Australia Mental Health Act 2014, S 194, p. 145; Australian Capital Territory Mental Health Act 2015, S 147, p. 178.
  3. WHO Resource Book on Mental Health, Human Rights and Legislation, World Health Organisation, 2005, p.64
  4. India Mental Health Care Act 2017, S 95 (b), p 39. http://www.prsindia.org/uploads/media/Mental%20Health/Mental%20Healthcare%20Act,%202017.pdf