The burgeoning mental health crisis in our country is belatedly being widely reported and generally acknowledged. It has become plain beyond genuine dispute that mentally ill people are far too often among the most desperately vulnerable people in this generally prosperous land. For we know that:there are many mentally ill people living on our streets; there are many mentally ill people living in abject squalor and poverty; there are countless mentally ill people left to fend for themselves in gaols, boarding houses and public housing estates throughout our nation.
We also know that this situation is simply indefensible.
In that context, the provision of long-term, supported accommodation for the chronically mentally ill who are presently unable to live with the basic dignity to which every human being is entitled is not simply a “good idea”. It is an absolute must.
At the same time it is becoming increasingly apparent that the task of relieving the plight of so many of our mentally ill fellow citizens will not be adequately addressed by governments alone. There is an urgent need for local communities and private citizens to at least share responsibility and recognise that the question “what can I do?” must replace the question “what are they doing?” Indeed, such a cultural shift is essential if genuine change is to be achieved.
In that context, I have no hesitation in sincerely commending Home in Queanbeyan (“Home”) as a significant community initiative that will both reach out the hand of support to the homeless mentally ill of our local community and hopefully help inspire other communities to do the same. Home is, I believe, a wonderful example of a local community seeking to respond to those whose cries are too often drowned-out by apathy, indifference and buck-passing. As Patron of Home in Queanbeyan, I urge you to give it whatever support you can.