Psychiatrists say the mandatory chemical castration of child sex offenders would be unethical, after a NSW taskforce was asked to consider the option.
The wide-ranging body, which includes child abuse victims’ group Bravehearts as well as representatives from agencies including Corrective Services, will consider if courts should be empowered to order anti-libidinal treatment for convicted pedophiles.
“Anti-libidinal medication alone is not a cure-all, but I want to make sure we make the very best possible use of it, combined with other strong measures, to prevent reoffending,” NSW Justice Minister Troy Grant says.
But the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) does not support mandatory or compulsory biological treatments for child sex offenders.
“(Our) Code of Ethics states that psychiatrists shall seek valid consent from their patients before undertaking any procedure or treatment,” said forensic psychiatrist Dr John Kasinathan.
He also noted that the term “chemical castration” refers to having no sex drive at all, while the goal of modern biological treatment was to reduce deviant sexual arousal and behaviour.
Anti-androgen medications, which lower the level of testosterone, may have limited therapeutic benefit for some patients and have significant potential side effects, Dr Kasinathan said.
“The prescription of anti-androgenic medication is a clinical decision and relies on medical knowledge and specific knowledge of the patient in question,” he said.
Mr Grant said the taskforce has also been asked to review existing anti-libidinal treatment programs in the NSW correctional system, and consider whether they should be expanded.
“I understand there’s some reservations by some in the medical field in relation to the effectiveness of chemical castration, or the use of anti-libido medication,” he said.
“It is working in other areas and I want it to work here, because we need to have every sentencing option to protect every child from the predators that are sex offenders.”
The taskforce is due to make recommendations to government by the end of the year.