Parents’ Opposition to Potentially Life-saving Treatment for Minors: Learning from the Oshin Kiszko Litigation Academic Article uri icon


  • This article reviews a series of high-profile decisions made during 2016 by the Western Australian Family Court in relation to a child with a brain tumour whose parents were resistant to his being treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy by reason of their commitment to natural therapies and their belief at an early stage after his diagnosis that orthodox medical treatment should be abandoned in favour of palliative care. The article argues that the decisions in Director Clinical Services, Child & Adolescent Health Services v Kiszko [2016] FCWA 19, 34 and 75 constitute a problematic precedent in terms of the potential for certain forms of parental behaviour being able to engineer a desired outcome that may not be in the best interests of a vulnerable child. It contends that efforts should be made to hear the voice of a child in such cases, that it is important that collateral agendas which may be influencing antagonism to treatment be identified early, and that a constructive role may be able to be played by child protection authorities in prompt initiation of litigation where attempts at non-adversarial resolution of a treatment impasse have failed.

publication date

  • January 1, 2016