Authors: Sunday Age Newspaper Journalist: Peter Ellingsen
Event: 2005 TheMHS Awards
Type of resource: TheMHS Awards
Award state: VIC
Award level: Winner
Award category: Print
Abstract: In December, 2004, Peter Ellingsen began an investigative series into mental health in Victoria, which brought together experts and decision-makers exposing gross inadequacies and led to a government rethink of resourcing. The Sunday Age published a series on mental health, The Shame of the Forgotten People, in December 2004. It was the product of several weeks research into the issues surrounding the mentally ill, and the way in which the system had evolved in the 12 years since Brian Burdekin bought down his landmark Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report. In order to provide some momentum to the series, Burdekin was invited to return to Australia from his work abroad for the United Nations to chair a roundtable discussion held at the Sunday Age into the ways the mental health system might be improved. We also looked at mental health in prison, the link with the unavailablilty of housing and the scarcity of care in the community. The stories also focused on individual cases by getting sufferers to tell their personal stories. The picture was a powerful one of neglect and abuse. The stories strongly resonated with readers, who wrote in with their accounts and reactions, with carer and NGO groups, and with Government, which subsequently boosted mental health in the state budget by $180 million over four years. The Sunday Age is continuing its coverage of mental health issues.