Tentative good news for the youth of FNQ!
Four months ago I sent an outraged update, telling you that I felt our campaign, and thus our community, was not being listened to by those we voted in to lead us. We had no formal response to the petition with a whopping 9,500 signatures from local people and those with local connections. Over 6,000 online, and the rest collected the hard and old fashioned way – travelling around the region and setting up tables. Lots of people helped out on the Tablelands, at Port Douglas and Mossman, Innisfail. Petition pages were pouring in from all over. I talked to many of our community who told me tales of their experiences and those of people they know. Of how desperately we need our demand met. One or two were doubters who told me “you’ll never do it”, “you won’t make a difference”. I look forward to telling them they are wrong, and restoring our faith in the democratic process.
In our petition, presented to our Health Minister Lawrence Springborg in April 2013, we expressed our deep concern that young people are being placed on the Adult Mental Health ward and children with mental illness on the Paediatric, Maternity and in other inappropriate places. That local young people had to be sent to Brisbane for treatment, away from their families, that is, if they could get a place. What do you need when you are ill? Your family! I heard many pleas from local youngsters asking us to keep fighting for them......and parents too.
Following the ‘outraged’ update, support was there from our local elected members especially MP for Barron River Michael Trout. Michael had been approached by several families struggling to get help for their adolescents in his constituency. In December 2013, we received a letter from Mr Springborg via Michael.
He wrote that we could be assured that this Government is committed to providing health services across Queensland that meet the needs of the local community. The big word in my mind was ‘HOW!”.
It has been well known for a very long time that our region desperately better mental health care and facilities. The petition went in to bat particularly for our young, alarmed as we are at how many youth and young adults we lose to suicide in FNQ (many in the care of our overstretched mental health services). It showed our government just how strongly 9 and ½ thousand of us feel about this. And I do believe that our Hospital and Health Board and our state government are listening.
Things are slowly improving in the mental health area in FNQ with extra adult acute beds at Cairns Private Clinic. The units being built to support adults with a mental illness reintegrate into the community. But what about our young!
I have been assured that the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Board are working hard, with full support from our Health Minister, to bring to Cairns just exactly what we need and what we have asked for.
I hope that my next update brings us a final answer!