We deserve to be heard, Barrier Breakers says

One of Barrier Breakers two submissions to the Royal Commission into Victorias Mental Health System says two thirds of people incarcerated in the states prisons are suffering mental illness.
One of Barrier Breakers two submissions to the Royal Commission into Victorias Mental Health System says two thirds of people incarcerated in the states prisons are suffering mental illness.

A GIPPSLAND advocate organisation for mental health has slammed the decision of the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System to restrict its hearings to Melbourne and Maryborough.

Barrier Breakers chair Professor Jamie Hogan asked whether the commissioners had ever heard of Gippsland.

He added more than one third of Victorians lived regionally, many in rural and remote communities, and a lot of these people would find travel to Melbourne expensive and difficult.

"This is particularly relevant to Gippsland, with a history of disrupted train travel, changing bus timetables and lengthy travel delays," Professor Hogan said.

"With a population in excess of 250,000 people and with at least 20 per cent of the population suffering from mental illness in any one given year, it translates to around 50,000 people needing basic and better mental health care in our region."

"Many, many such sufferers have valid complaints about how the mental health system has failed them, and are now being denied the opportunity to tell the Royal Commission of the shortcomings in this system."

Professor Hogan said that while Barrier Breakers had lodged two submissions with the Royal Commission reflecting the community's views, the submissions were not as effective as the personal experiences of those let down by the system.

"They deserve to be heard," Professor Hogan said.

Of the Barrier Breakers' two submissions, one deals with the desperate housing situation in Gippsland, focusing on the homeless and a model of supported accommodation for the mentally ill.

This submission also details how two thirds of all people incarcerated in Victorian prisons are suffering mental illness, with many whose only fault was to be homeless.

The other submission demands special and urgent funding for the crisis advocacy work that Barrier Breakers undertakes.

"Up until now, the community of Gippsland has funded our advocacy work with a heavy demand upon our volunteers," Professor Hogan said.

"The increase in the demand for crisis advocacy right across the length and breadth of Gippsland is now beyond the capacity of our community, and we desperately need financial support from the government," he added.

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