COAG Health Council: AMSA calls for changes to mandatory reporting laws
Thursday April 12th 2018
As national leaders prepare to meet at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council tomorrow, the Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) is calling on the State Health Ministers to prioritise doctor and medical student mental health, and reform mandatory reporting laws across the country.
AMSA is the peak representative body for Australia’s 17,000 medical students and is advocating for the COAG Health Council to change national mandatory reporting laws to allow medical professionals to seek help when they need it without fear of professional consequences.
AMSA President Alex Farrell said: “Medical students are holding their breath for what comes out of this next meeting. We are hoping to see concrete commitment to reforming these harmful laws.”
In all States, except for Western Australia, current laws have led to a fear of being reported if doctors and medical students seek help for mental illnesses. This fear deters doctors and students from seeking early, preventive care.
“AMSA supports the provisions in the WA model which give exemptions to mandatory reporting requirements for treating doctors - this means doctors can access confidential care just like everyone else,” Ms Farrell said.
“Mental health affects everyone, doctors above all know this. Yet these laws function in a way that treats medical professionals differently, how can they care for others if we don’t let them care for themselves?
“All students are asking for is to be able to go and see a GP and ask for help when they need it. At the moment there are barriers to doing that, because of the fear and stigma of mandatory reporting.
“This discussion has been ongoing because year after year we see tragic suicides within the medical profession, but now it’s time to stop talking and get on with enacting real change.
“In November, the COAG Health Council agreed that there should be a national framework. They now need to commit to this being a framework that maximises support for doctors, and see these changes carried out across the country.
“We have already seen this model of ‘no mandatory reporting’ for those seeking treatment for health conditions in action in Western Australia - it is tried and tested.”
If you or someone you know needs help, mental health professionals are
Beyondblue phone 24/7 on 1300 224 636 or via www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support for online chat (3PM-12AM AEST) or email responses (within 24 hours)
Headspace on 1800 650 890
Lifeline on 13 11 14
M:0406 919 800
Published: 12 Apr 2018