“Human rights recognise the inherent value of each person, regardless of background, where we live, what we look like, what we think or what we believe.

They are based on principles of dignity, equality and mutual respect, which are shared across cultures, religions and philosophies. They are about being treated fairly, treating others fairly and having the ability to make genuine choices in our daily lives.” (Australian Human Rights Commission)

Respect for human rights is the cornerstone of strong communities in which everyone can make a contribution and feel included.

There are laws in NSW that protect the human rights of people with a mental health condition. Examples include:

If you think you have been treated unfairly because you have a mental health condition, you may wish to get legal advice to discuss your options. Legal advice and assistance is available through Law Access by phoning 1300 888 529.

Organisations and peak bodies often recognise the rights of people who use their services in a formal statement. This includes statements about rights, responsibilities and standards. They may provide people with additional rights, such as the right to request a new worker. These documents are not legally binding, but are considered best practice.

Every organisation has a complaints process that can be used by people who feel that the organisation has breached these rights.


The Mental Health Rights Manual: An online guide to the legal and human rights of people navigating the mental health and human service systems in NSW
This manual describes how to best understand and navigate NSW mental health services, including the relationship between mental health and other related services and legislation.
Type: Manual
Produced by: Mental Health Coordinating Council

Human Rights Explained
This web page provides fact sheets that explain the development of human rights law. In addition, there are useful references, including a link to Australian case studies.
Type: Web page with fact sheets and case studies
Produced by: Australian Human Rights Commission

Discrimination and the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW Fact Sheet
This fact sheet explains the types of discrimination and harassment that are against the law in NSW and what you can do if it happens to you or someone you are supporting.
Type: Fact sheet
Length: 4 pages
Produced by: Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW

Discrimination toolkit
This website lists places where you can make a complaint about discrimination and also services that provide free legal advice or assistance.
Type: Toolkit
Produced by: Legal Aid New South Wales

The rights and responsibilities of people with mental health problems and mental illness
Type: Article
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Produced by: AUST | Department of Health

Current as at: Monday 12 December 2022
Contact page owner: Mental Health