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Chapter 8 Section A: Specific Consumers and their needs


In Australia, everyone has the same legal rights, for example, the right to a fair trial and equality before the law. This is also true with mental health rights. It means that no matter your background, regardless of your gender, culture, ethnicity or religious beliefs, you have the same rights as any other person in Australia to get mental health care and services.

Mental health law should apply equally to everyone in NSW. However, the reality is that although the law itself is applied equally, disadvantage or cultural differences, often means that the application of mental health law produces different outcomes for members of different groups in society. One example is that people with a relatively high income or from a family with a lot of financial resources can get private mental health care.

People from disadvantaged backgrounds, especially people with lived experience of a mental health condition, may have difficulty getting the mental health services that should be available to them. This may be because of lack of money; lack of awareness of what services are available; limited reading and writing skills and English language skills; lack of physical access to services for people experiencing difficulties with mobility; or lack of easily understood information for people with intellectual or cognitive impairment. It may be also because of stereotyping and/or prejudice against members of particular groups of people with mental health conditions generally. There is also an inequity of services across NSW, particularly in rural and remote areas.

These potential differences in outcomes have to some extent been recognised by governments and those who provide mental health services. This recognition has led to policy changes and, in some cases, changes to the law.

The most obvious of these changes is the anti-discrimination law that prohibits discrimination when providing services (including mental health services).

This section of the Manual looks at the difficulties faced by members of particular groups in both accessing and engaging with mental health services in NSW and suggests possible remedies, rights and services that may help stop members of these groups from having negative experiences. You can read about issues that are particularly relevant to people with mental health conditions who:

  • are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders
  • are from a non-English-speaking background
  • are children or young people
  • have or are caring for children
  • have alcohol and other drug issues
  • have an intellectual disability, an acquired brain injury, epilepsy, dementia, other disability, or personality disorders 
  • have an eating disorder

Updated January 30, 2015