Martin Whitely

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Martin Whitely
Martin Whitely small.jpg
In office
10 February 2001 – 9 March 2013
Preceded by Clive Brown
Succeeded by Dave Kelly
Constituency Bassendean
Personal details
Born (1959-10-19) 19 October 1959 (age 56)
Perth Western Australia
Nationality Australian
Political party Australian Labor Party
Profession Teacher
Website Martin Whitely Homepage

Martin Paul Whitely (born 19 October 1959 in Perth, Australia), was a Labor member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly from February 2001 until he retired from state politics in March 2013. He represented the electorate of Roleystone from 2001 to 2005 and, following the abolition of Roleystone, he represented the electorate of Bassendean.[1]

Whitely was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry from August 2006 until the Carpenter government lost office in September 2008.

Whitely has been outspoken on a number of issues including; • The need for democratic reform of the Western Australian Labor Party (WA Labor) • Psychosis Risk Disorder (Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome) and DSM5 • ADHD child prescribing

In January 2012 Whitely announced his decision to retire from Western Australian state politics after the March 2013 state election.

In March 2014 Whitely completed a PhD in Public Policy through Curtin University titled 'Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Policy, Practice and Regulatory Capture in Australia from 1992 to 2012'. The thesis is available at

Democratic Reform of the Western Australian Labor Party[edit]

Along with former WA Labor Minister, Alannah MacTiernan, Whitely led the Labor Reform Forum. Between 2007and 2011 Labor Reform Forum argued unsuccessfully for rule changes including sharing the WA Labor internal voting entitlements currently controlled by the state secretaries of major unions amongst rank and file union members. Ultimately the reforms were blocked by the union secretaries, who used their voting entitlements, to block any rule changes that would have reduced their voting entitlements.[2]

Psychosis Risk Disorder (Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome)[edit]

Whitely was prominent in Australian efforts in the ultimately successful fight against the official recognition of ‘Psychosis Risk Disorder’ in the next version of the American Psychiatric Association’s, DSM5.[3] Psychosis Risk Disorder (officially termed Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome) was removed from the draft of the DSM5 after it lost the support of former prominent advocates including former Australian of the Year, psychiatrist Professor Patrick McGorry.[4]

Anti-ADHD Child Drugging Advocacy[edit]

When elected in 2001, Mr Whitely advocated for tighter stimulant prescribing controls arguing Western Australia (WA) had excessive ADHD child prescribing rates.

Before Whitely entered parliament WA ADHD stimulant prescription rates were amongst the highest in the world, exceeding the US national average.[5] In 2000 the number of Western Australians prescribed ADHD stimulants was 20,648. The WA Health Department estimated 85-90% (approximately 18,000 although Whitely considers 14,000 a more accurate estimate) were children.[6] Western Australian prescribing rates continued to grow until the introduction of tighter ADHD amphetamine prescribing accountability measures in late 2003. Since then child prescribing rates in WA have fallen significantly with 5,666 children on stimulants in 2008.[7]

The 2008 Australian Secondary Students' Alcohol and Drug Survey (ASSAD) data indicated a reduction in 'last month amphetamine abuse' by WA school children 12–17 years old from 10.3 per cent in 2002, to 6.5 per cent in 2005, and 5.1 per cent in 2008.[8] Whitely claims ‘this evidence supports the commonsense proposition that prescribing amphetamines facilitates their abuse’.[9]

Whitely remains a prominenent critic of ADHD child prescribing and has authored a book 'Speed Up and Sit Still - The Controversies of ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment' and a web resource critical of the marketing of ADHD ( All authors payments from sales of the book are donated to Drug Free Attention Difficulties Support Inc. ( DFADS is a not for profit support group established by Whitely in 2003 in order to support parents wishing to take drug-free approaches to helping children with attentional difficulties.

Whitely has repeatedly criticised the ADHD diagnostic criteria in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) as subjective and unscientific. Despite this the former chair of the DSM-IV development task force Doctor Allen Frances, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Duke University praised Whitely’s work implementing "rigorous quality controls over stimulant prescription" in a blog on the Huffington Post titled Taming the ADD Epidemic.[10]

Whitely has no medical training and has no commercial interest in ADHD. His opposition to the use of ADHD medications stems from his time working as a high school teacher from 1995 to 2001, when he was concerned at the number of heavily medicated boys in his classroom.


  1. ^ "Extract from the Western Australian Parliamentary Handbook". 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-10. 
  2. ^ M. Whitely, The West Australian, Too Much Power in Too Few Hands 15 January 2011
  3. ^ David Weber, Australian Broadcasting Commission, The World Today, 25 May 2012.
  4. ^ Amy Corderoy, About-turn on treatment of the Young,Sydney Morning Herald, 20 February 2012
  5. ^ Berbatis CG, Sunderland VB, Bulsara, M. Licit Psychostimulant consumption in Australia, (2002) 1984-2000: international and jurisdictional comparison, Medical Journal of Australia, 177 (10) pp.539-543. © Copyright 2002. The Medical Journal of Australia
  6. ^ Office of Mental Health, Attentional Problems in Children: Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Associated Disorders, November 2002, Government of Western Australia: p21 and
  7. ^ Department of Health, Western Australian Stimulant Regulatory Scheme 2008 Annual Report, Pharmaceutical Services Branch, Health Protection Group, Department of Health, Western Australia (2009)
  8. ^ P. Griffiths, R. Kalic & A. Gunnell, Australian School Student Survey 2008: Western Australian Results (excluding tobacco), Brief Communication no. 2, Drug and Alcohol Office, Perth, 2009.
  9. ^ Martin Whitely, Speed Up and Sit Still - The Controversies of ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment, University of Western Australia Publishing, 2010, p. 37.
  10. ^

External links[edit]

Western Australian Legislative Assembly
Preceded by
Clive Brown
Member for Bassendean
Succeeded by
Dave Kelly