Human rights and mental illness: Report of the National inquiry concerning the human rights of people with mental illness Volume 1 and 2

30 October 1993

This report, commonly known as the 'Burdekin Report', exposed the devastating personal consequences of inadequate mental health and welfare services.It was published in 2 volumes both of which are available to download in PDF here.

In 1992 all Australian Governments initiated the National Mental Health Strategy to correct decades of neglect and assure the rights of people with mental illness. The Burdekin report was released the following year, resulting in major changes to to mental health policy in Australia. In particular, there was rapid move towards deinstitutionalisation and to protect the rights of those who remain institutionalised. However, a report released in 2005 by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission found that many of the goals set out in the Burdekin are far from being met.

The Burdekin report revealed:

  • widespread ignorance about the nature and prevalence of mental illness in the community;
  • widespread discrimination;
  • widespread misconceptions about the number of people with a mental illness who are dangerous;
  • and a widespread belief that few people affected by mental illness ever recover.

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Brian Burdekin, 1993, Human rights and mental illness: Report of the National inquiry concerning the human rights of people with mental illness Volume 1 and 2, Australian Human Rights Commission, viewed 04 December 2016, <http://apo.org.au/node/29708>.

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