Resituating Aotearoa New Zealand mental health legislation in the context of social and occupational justice




Mental health, legislation, social justice, occupational justice


INTRODUCTION: Social work and occupational therapy mental health practitioners face a range of tensions in relation to statutory obligations in the context of maintaining a focus on the ideals of social or occupational justice.

APPROACH: The aim of this article is to highlight some of the complexities for social work and occupational therapy practitioners in an environment dominated by a medico-legal worldview. Those complexities include creating and maintaining a therapeutic relationship, adhering to legal obligations; and staying focused on professional values and beliefs. We have explored notions of social justice and occupational justice and undertaken a descriptive chronological review of Aotearoa New Zealand mental health legislation.

IMPLICATIONS: We have provided an insight in to some of the key factors that have influenced the development of mental health legislation in this country in relation to social and occupational justice. We have considered how the medico-legal worldview influences staying true to the notions of social and occupational justice and have made suggestions for change relative to practice and the legislation. 

Author Biographies

Kirk Douglas Reed, Auckland University of Technology

Senior  Lecturer, Department of Occupational Science and Therapy

Brian Field, Midcentral Health

Senior Social Worker. Mental Health Service, Midcentral District Health Board


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How to Cite

Reed, K. D., & Field, B. (2017). Resituating Aotearoa New Zealand mental health legislation in the context of social and occupational justice. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 29(3), 55–65.



Original Articles