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Human Rights Group Marches in Protest to Demand RANZCP End Dangerous Coercive Psychiatric Practices, in step with WHO and UN

Citizens Commission on Human Rights 3 mins read
Stop Psychiatric Torture: Ban Electroshock, Stop Coercion: CCHR Protest March against RANZCP. 19.05.24

Sunday, 19 May 2004: Scores of protesters marched on the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Annual Congress in Canberra over its support for electroshock therapy, psychiatric restraints, forced drugging, and involuntary detainment.

The protest was organised by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a mental health industry watchdog. CCHR demands a complete ban on these practices, citing their harmful effects on vulnerable individuals.

The demonstration included a banner which stated, “Stop psychiatric torture, ban electroshock. Stop Coercion.”

During the protest Canberrans were invited to attend CCHR’s Psychiatry: A Human Rights Abuse & Failure-An Industry of Death Exhibition which is open daily in Canberra until 24 May from 10am to 6pm. The free exhibit exposes the history of psychiatry through to present day highlighting the grievous harm it has caused to patients.

The RANZCP appears reluctant to support the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) 2023 mandates to end all forms of coercive psychiatric treatment. Both organisations stated electroshock is an “irreversible intervention” causing “memory loss and brain damage,” instructing its prohibition for children and involuntary electroshock.

WHO/OCHR advised that “International human rights standards clarify that ECT without consent violates the right to physical and mental integrity and may constitute torture and ill-treatment.” RANZCP labels electroshock as “therapeutic".

  • In 2023, there were over 29,000 Medicare funded electroshocks administered in Australia at a staggering cost of $5,090,337.
  • Women are a target for electroshock with 70% of these electroshocks given to women. Adolescents and the elderly over 85 years of age are electroshocked in Australia.
  • In 2021/22, Australia reported 16,966 uses of physical restraint nationally.
  • With 1,522 instances of mechanical restraint in the same year, the use of mechanical restraint has increased 37% compared to the previous year and has risen 91% compared to 2017/18.
  • The rate of mechanical restraint applied to children and adolescents doubled compared to 2020/21. The use of chemical restraint is not reported nationally.

Involuntary treatment, another coercive practice which includes forced psychiatric drugging continues in every state and territory of Australia. There have been more than 80 psychiatric drug warnings issued by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. These warn of the risk of aggression, hallucinations, liver problems, suicidal behaviour, heart problems and possible death. Apart from vulnerable children and adults having these potentially dangerous drugs forced on them, too often parents and adults are not told at time of prescribing they should never stop taking any psychiatric drug without the advice and assistance of a competent medical doctor.

The RANZCP Congress website does not disclose potential conflicts of interest between participating psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical industry. Examples include:

  • RANZCP: Have a long history of pharmaceutical support. In 2023, they reported Janssen, Servier, Takeda, Indivior, and Juno Pharmaceuticals as supporting their activities.
  • Prof. Patrick McGorry: Received support from six drug companies.
  • Prof. Michael Berk: Received funding from eight drug and speaking engagement honoraria from 11 drug companies.
  • Prof. David Coghill: Received honoraria from three drug companies.

The Psychiatry: A Human Rights Abuse & Failure-An Industry of Death Exhibition is open until Friday 24th May.

Where: 148-180 City Walk, Canberra (opposite Garema Place)

When: Daily from 10am to 6pm until Friday 24th May 2024


For more information contact: Shelley Wilkins (02) 9964 9844 or

Executive Director CCHR Australian National Office


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


Key Facts:

Protest March against RANZCP at their Annual Congress for its support of electroshock and restraint.

Protesters say: "Stop psychiatric torture.  Ban electroshock. Stop coercion"  

UN and WHO say, eliminate coercion including forced electroshock and restraint. 




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