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Citizens Commission on Human Rights 3 mins read
CCHR's exhibition on psychiatric human rights abuse

Exhibit amping up public awareness that electroshock is still legal for use on NSW children  


A chillingly informative exhibit on human rights problems in the psychiatric system opens for 3 days starting Thursday, 22nd February. The Exhibit highlights the little-known facts about the potentially harmful side effects of psychiatric drugs, restraint, seclusion and electroshock and the lack of informed consent. Despite the more than 80 psychiatric drug warnings issued by the Australian Government, a staggering 1,371,095 NSW adults and children were on psychiatric drugs in NSW in 2021/22.


The exhibit, produced by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), is being held at the Embassy Conference Centre on George Street just up from Central Station, in Sydney.  


One topic covered by the exhibition is electroshock (ECT). This is the application of hundreds of volts of electricity applied to the head, creating the equivalent of a grand mal seizure. It can cause brain damage, heart attack, memory loss, worsening of “psychiatric symptoms” and even death. A total of 29,165 Medicare funded electroshocks were given in 2023 in Australia, 7,030 of these in NSW.


The United Nations clearly told Australia in 2019 to “Prohibit the use of non-consensual electroconvulsive therapy on the basis of any form of impairment”.  As well, both the United Nations and World Health Organisation together issued their Mental Health, human rights and legislation guidance and practice document in October 2023, calling electroshock an “irreversible intervention” which can cause memory loss and brain damage. It also stated, “ECT is not recommended for children, and this should be prohibited through legislation.”


NSW remains out of step and in the dark ages with its treatment with no bans in place to prevent the use of ECT on children. It can also be forcibly given to involuntarily detained NSW patients without their consent.


In 2021/22 there were 804 Tribunal Hearings in NSW to consider application of forced ECT on involuntary patients, 90% of which were approved. These hearings included five applications to give ECT to girls under 16 years, three of which were approved.


People touring the exhibit will be able to sign a petition calling for a ban on the use of electroshock in NSW.  


This exhibit features 10 display panels that incorporate audio-visual presentations depicting key concerns and topics of human rights abuses in the mental health system with statements from psychiatrists, doctors, lawyers, legal and human rights experts, and victims of psychiatric brutalities. It traces the origins of psychiatry to today and features the potentially devastating effects of psychotropic drugs, especially in relation to children.


With NSW’s record spending on mental health reaching a staggering $2.9 billion in 2022/23, (up more than 52% since 2017/18) psychiatry is not being held accountable to produce results. If the NSW mental health system were working, the numbers of children and adults needing assistance would be decreasing as people got better. Instead, the lives of vulnerable children and adults are continually being placed at risk with electroshock, psychiatric restraint and potentially dangerous psychiatric drugs which can be forced on patients, potentially setting up patients for life and a recurring revenue stream for psychiatry with poor and harmful results.


The exhibition provides practical guidance for lawmakers, doctors, lawyers, human rights advocates, parents and the general public to take action to help protect themselves, their families and others from the abuses rampant in the mental health system as well as advocate for changes to bring dignity and human rights to the field of mental health.


People visiting the FREE exhibit will be able to obtain free copies of CCHR’s documentaries including, “Psychiatry: Friend or Foe? The Untold Story of Australian Psychiatry.” 


TOUR TIMES:                 22nd – 24th February 2024, 11 am to 5 pm daily


VENUE:                          Embassy Conference Centre, 826 George Street Sydney (near Central Station on Corner of George and Regent Streets)

 Contact: Shelley Wilkins                                                                                                               

               (02) 9964 9844 or


Footage within the exhibition is rated MA 15+ Strong Themes, Surgical Procedures.


CCHR was co-founded in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and the late Dr. Thomas Szasz, Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus to investigate and expose psychiatric violations of human rights.   



Key Facts:

Sydney exhibition on psychiatric human rights abuses opens 22nd to 24th February 2024. 

NSW girls under 16 years of age given electroshock.

NSW does not ban electroshock of children despite both the UN and WHO saying to prohibit electroshock of children. 



Contact details:

Contact: Shelley Wilkins (02) 99649844 or    Executive Director of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) Australian National Office                                                                                                   



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