Update #1 ·

Keep up the pressure on decisionmakers!

Thank you all who have signed this petition.  The idea was to present
our more specific demands to Dr Bill Kingswell, the Acting Executive Director
of Mental Health Services in Queensland, at the Mental Health Workshop in
Cairns on 12th September, which I did. As we had not collected the 5000
signatures I am sure we can gather, by this day, these will be presented to him
later, and I have kept the petition open.

What's the point you may ask?! 

Well, the workshop was well attended by all mental health services from FNQ (community
and NGOs) and Health department staff and clinicians from FNQ and Townsville.
Also present was our Commissioner for Mental Health, Dr Lesley van
Schoubroeck.  Our local hospital board was represented by Julie
Hartley-Jones the CEO, Bob Norman the Chair, and Peter Smith GP.  Our
local people were very supportive of having a dedicated facility in FNQ
providing 'step up' and 'step down' facilities for our adolescents and young
adults up to the age of 25. 

The fact that one such is almost complete and ready to go in Townsville is,
as per the petition demands, of no relevance to FNQ, due to distance, and the
population to be served there.  We are NOT close enough to share
facilities, Cairns/FNQ needs its OWN Day Unit, Acute beds and longer term
therapeutic beds.  Flying to Townsville is more expensive than flying to
Brisbane and driving, too far to be able to juggle home and work commitments,
plus support your unwell adolescent.  Our
young need to be near what they know when they are unwell, their friends,
family, their homes.

Unfortunately, what was apparent at the workshop, and was very worrying -
was that this understanding, so obvious to us, is not at all obvious to
Brisbane decision makers.  The workshop attendees hammered home this point
all day, but I am not sure that Statewide planning (Dr Kingswell spoke to us
about this) reflects this.  I saw total support from the Hospital Board
for a Y-PARC or Youth Prevention And Recovery Care – a ‘step up’ and ‘step down’
unit to prevent an acute admission and a place to recover after such, before
returning to the community.  Those who
live and work in mental health in FNQ, and of course the families and young
people themselves,  know just how
desperately we need this.

Hospital Boards were created to enable decisions to be made locally
according to the needs of each community served.  And we have the acknowledged need, and will from ours.  So why is it that I felt the chill of disbelief
from Dr Kingswell that FNQ needs its own facilities? He did not seem at all
impressed by the signatures of 9,500 of our community members asking for
this.  We need to let him know we still
mean what we say, and that we haven’t forgotten. He needs to listen to us, not make
decisions based on what he thinks is right alone.  Does he know, or indeed care, that the
incidence of young people presenting to the Emergency Department in a mental
health crisis, is increasing alarmingly. 

We ask our Board to find a way to create a Y-PARC in Cairns asap, like
Toowoomba and Townsville, we also demand the backing of our State Director of
Mental Health and our State politicians. 
My next step will be to approach the latter.

So PLEASE, keep this petition circulating, we are only half way there.  Add your voice to our demands, tell your
friends, DON’T WAIT until your family needs this help and you find out there
isn’t any.  Sign for those young ones who
took their lives because there was no help for them, no suitable services and/or
treatment (in the State, let alone FNQ). 
Sign to SAVE LIVES.  Sign it because young people in FNQ are begging us to make this happen. 

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