Individual ethics case study

Assignment: Individual ethics case study

For assessment task 2, you will discuss a recent VCAT decision (WCH v Mental Health Tribunal (Human Rights) (Amended) [2016] VCAT 199) using an ethical, rather than legal, framework.

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WCH v Mental Health Tribunal is a review of a community-based treatment order made under the Mental Health Act 2014 (Vic); the decision follows the same process as that used in the MH26 involuntary treatment order case discussed in Tutorial 1.  As with MH26, VCAT applies the criteria for treatment from the relevant legislation, in this case section 5 of the Mental Health Act 2014 (Vic) to the facts in the case, and then decides if the criteria apply. In this case, VCAT also considers the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) (Charter) in its decision.

For this assessment task, you will look at the facts, issues and arguments presented in WCH v Mental Health Tribunal and then analyse them in ethical terms according to the “Four Principles” approach to health care ethics.  Readings will be supplied to give you an understanding of the Four Principles approach.  As you will see, respect for autonomy is automatically an issue in these cases; however, the other principles can also feature prominently.

As part of the assessment task, you should discuss the following:

– To what extent does respect for autonomy feature?  What elements of this case relate to autonomy and why?

– What arguments were made (or facts given) for/against the community treatment order in terms of the principle of beneficence and non-maleficence?

– What, if any, issues are there in relation to the principle of justice? 
What not to do 
Do not:

– Waffle: You only have 1000 words, so consider carefully what you include.

– Regurgitate: you do not need to provide a lengthy summary of the VCAT decision (e.g. re-describe the circumstances of the applicant) or of the ethical principles themselves.  Only short descriptions are necessary to illustrate your argument about how the ethical principles manifest themselves in the decision.

– Cut-and-paste: aside from obvious academic integrity considerations (see subject description), it is not necessary to include large segments from the VCAT decisions (see also: waffle, above).  You need to identify the issues in the decision and then express how you think they relate to the ethical principles.


Please use standard in-text referencing for the book extracts provided and any other reference material you use.  Please include a reference list – the references are not included in the word count.

For the VCAT decision, it will be sufficient to identify it in-text with a paragraph reference; for example “…(WCH v Mental Health Tribunal, [3]) for paragraph 3 of the decision.  Please use the full citation (above) for the bibliography.

Please refer to the subject description for information about academic integrity requirements.

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