Mental Health

07 Jun 2006 archivespeech

This speech is regarding complaints recieved from distressed members of the public in relation to illicit drugs, alcohol and activities at the Glenside campus.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Facts have been raised on several occasions in this parliament in relation to illicit drugs, alcohol and activities at the Glenside campus. On 7 and 8 November 2005, the then minister for mental health and substance abuse told parliament, in response to concerns raised about a specific incident, that she had sought a review of security procedures at Glenside to prevent drug and alcohol use. She undertook to bring details back into parliament at another time. Issues were then raised again by me on 28 November 2005. Following the state election, a new minister was installed in that role, and on 3 May I asked the new minister a generic question about the same topic without mentioning names, but citing a previous example, and referring to the fact that opposition members have information that other incidents have occurred. In her reply to this question, the minister said:

In relation to the evidence, as the honourable member herself indicated, it is only anecdotal. As I mentioned yesterday, if the honourable member has evidence or allegations of any impropriety whatsoever, she has a responsibility to draw that to my attention.

On 31 May, I took the minister's advice. I outlined to the parliament the details of a specific example to highlight wider problems, without injecting hyperbole. The details speak for themselves. The minister did not answer the question about the facts of the incident or public safety but talked instead about absconding (which was not the issue) and about not stigmatising people by mentioning names and details in parliament.

The following day, through a ministerial statement, the minister warned me that I might be named and shamed on the SANE Australia web site. However, I did not hear the honourable member protest when she was on the back bench and her predecessor in the ministerial role, in response to a question on 22 November last year about Mrs S, a mentally ill woman who presented to the Lyell McEwin Hospital and had to wait some 35 hours for a bed, put issues on the public record in relation to Mrs S's husband's employment status, facts which bore no relation to the case. One can only conclude that this government has determined that all bad news or dissent will be met with the tactic of shooting the messenger.

The opposition receives a number of legitimate complaints. They come from members of the public, family members, friends and loved ones and, in some instances, people within the system who are distressed by what they have witnessed and/or experienced. The government has chosen on this occasion to hide behind anonymity to deflect attention from the underlying issues, when its own record is inconsistent and selective at best. Members on this side of the council would not be doing their job if we did not continue to raise the genuine concerns of members of the public to highlight ongoing issues that should necessarily concern us all.