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Petitioning Parliament of Victoria The Hon Dr Denis Napthine

Ban electroshock treatment on children under 16

Victorian parents may not realise this, but in our beloved Garden State, it is currently legal for children of any age to be subjected to electroshock ‘treatment’. This procedure, also known as electroconvulsive therapy or ECT, involves the application of hundreds of volts of electricity to the head to create a seizure. It can cause brain damage, memory loss and sometimes death.

On February 18th, the Hon. Mary Wooldridge, Minister for Mental Health, released the government’s new mental health bill. Claimed to be human rights focused, the bill fails to uphold a proposed ban on electroshock of children under 13 - electroshock will therefore remain legal on children of all ages.

The World Health Organization (2005) advised that ECT should only be used with the informed consent of the patient or their proxy, only with adequate analgesia and muscle relaxants, and never on children.

As the mother of 3 children aged 17 years and under, the idea that my children could be subjected to treatments such as these is unconscionable. This is especially compounded by the fact that I work in the field of helping children with neurological conditions; it is unfathomable to me that treatments which deliberately damage and have the potential to maim the brain can be administered in the name of mental health!  In Australia in 2014?  Surely this is too primitive and inhumane a treatment for a sophisticated civilisation?

In 2009/10 there were 48 electroshocks given to Victorian children aged 11-15. After public uproar in Western Australia, the proposed ban for electroshock has been lifted from under 12 to under 14. Victoria looked set to follow suit until the mental health bill was released last week. 

Please help Victoria not just match WA but lead the way by banning ECT for anyone under 16 and help to protect our children – as a stepping-stone to removing this practise from our society altogether.

Once the new Mental Health Act is passed by Parliament and made law which is expected in July this year, it will not be reviewed for another 5 years.

It is therefore essential that the bill gets amended now to ban ECT on children under 16 years.

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  • Parliament of Victoria
    The Hon Dr Denis Napthine

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