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  3. Mental Health and Disability Law

Mental Health and Disability Law (LAWS70458)

Graduate coursework level 7Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework Level 7
Subject codeLAWS70458
Availability(Quotas apply)
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject will analyse the relationship between psychiatry, psychology and law in contemporary Australia. It will address criteria and policy relating to involuntary status and the use of coercion in relation to those with mental illnesses and intellectual disabilities, focusing on the Mental Health Act 2014 (Vic) and the Disability Act 2006 (Vic); the role of the 2013 DSM-5; fitness to stand trial; mental impairment; sentencing of offenders with disabilities; expert evidence by mental health practitioners; mental harm litigation; the role of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in civil litigation; prediction of risk in criminal law; syndrome evidence in litigation; profiling evidence; and therapeutic jurisprudence.

Principal topics include:

  • Involuntary status in contemporary Australia
  • The role of the Chief Psychiatrist, the Mental Health Commissioner and the Mental Health Tribunal
  • The role of DSM-5 and ICD-10
  • Therapeutic jurisprudence
  • Mental impairment
  • Expert evidence by psychiatrists and psychologists
  • Sentencing of offenders with mental illnesses, brain injuries and intellectual disabilities
  • Fitness to stand trial under international criminal law
  • Civil litigation and complaints against mental health practitioners
  • Mental harm litigation
  • PTSD in the law
  • Prediction of risk evidence
  • Syndrome evidence.

Intended learning outcomes

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Have examined the legal and theoretical issues underlying the use of coercion in mental health and intellectual disability law
  • Have an advanced and integrated understanding of involuntary inpatient and outpatient orders
  • Be familiar with the taxonomies of diagnosis in the courts and able to explain them to people from a different background
  • Have a sophisticated appreciation of issues surrounding fitness to stand trial and insanity/mental impairment, including under international criminal law
  • Have an advanced knowledge of the law relating to expert evidence by psychiatrists and psychologists
  • Have examined issues relating to mental harm litigation
  • Have critically examined the forensic relevance of conditions such as PTSD; Autism Spectrum Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and Intellectual Disability
  • Understand the significance of risk prediction evidence and criminal profiling evidence; and syndrome evidence
  • Be able to provide a detailed critique of the concept of therapeutic jurisprudence and its practical operation.

Last updated: 9 April 2019