AMA submission to Senate Community Affairs References Committee Inquiry into the indefinite detention of people with cognitive and psychiatric impairment in Australia

4 May 2016

The AMA has provided a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs Inquiry into the indefinite detention of people with cognitive and psychiatric impairment in Australia.

This submission sets out the basic principle that indefinite detention is a violation of basic human rights and is likely to contribute to poor mental and physical health outcomes.  Any person with a cognitive of psychiatric impairment should be afforded the same right of access, equity and quality of health care as the general population.  As with all people, they should be treated with respect dignity and in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner.

Medical practitioners who provide medical care to those who are detained require sufficient professional autonomy and clinical independence to ensure that the integrity of the therapeutic relationship can be established and maintained.  Advice around medical treatment, and capacity to be involved in decisions related to any ongoing detention, must be informed by appropriately trained medical practitioners.

The submission canvasses factors contributing to indefinite detention due to cognitive and psychiatric impairment, such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) and acute hearing loss experienced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  It also states that lack of a suitable supported accommodation should not be used as an argument for an individual to be indefinitely detained.