D.3 Human Rights Act 2004

It is essential that policy writers and staff at or above manager level be educated about the Human Rights Act 2004. The Staff Development Unit facilitates human rights training for managers. In consultation with the ACT Human Rights Commission, an e-learning program has been developed to allow a more flexible method of training. Face-to-face sessions are also delivered by internal trainers. In 2013-14, three sessions were attended by 41 staff, including two senior officers, 11 health professionals, five administration officers, 35 nurses, one dentist and one scientist. A total of 246 staff completed the e-learning module, including staff specialists, senior officers, health professionals and senior nurses. Participants' course evaluations indicate that the training increased the participants' awareness of their obligations under the Human Rights Act 2004 In total, 287 staff completed human rights training in 2013-14.

In 2013-14, ACT Health distributed 300 copies of a brochure about healthcare rights and 4000 copies of a brochure about the Mental Health Charter of Rights.

In 2013-14, ACT Health continued its major review of the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Act 1994, and an extensive amendment bill was introduced into the Legislative Assembly on 15 May 2014. The review considered the Act's relationship with the Human Rights Act 2004 as well as other changes in the human rights context, including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The review has resulted in several changes which will increase people's control over their own treatment decisions. The Human Rights Commission and a range of mental health consumer and advocacy groups have been involved in the review since it commenced.

The Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety released its scrutiny report on the bill on 27 May 2014, commending the effort and skill involved in the way the bill's explanatory statement explains the provisions of the bill against human rights standards identified in a number of international instruments and the Human Rights Act 2004.

Litigation arose from the administration of electroconvulsive therapy without the consumer's consent. The application claimed general damages, aggravated damages and exemplary damages for false imprisonment, assault and battery, and a breach of section 18 of the Human Rights Act 2004. The matter was settled out of court.

Another application before the ACT Supreme Court arose from a wrong site surgery incident at the Canberra Hospital. As was reported in The Canberra Times, the family of the patient claimed that the deceased was treated in a cruel, inhumane and degrading way and was subjected to medical treatment without her free consent. The family also sought a declaration that the deceased was a victim of a contravention of the Human Rights Act 2004. The Supreme Court dismissed the claim (the judgment can be found at www.courts.act.gov.au/supreme/judgment/view/7838/title/chaloner-and-anor...). The plaintiff is applying to the Supreme Court to appeal the decision.