The Department of Lost Voices

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By April 17, 2015 No Comments

Authors: ABC Radio National’s Radio Eye JOURNALISTS: Nick Franklin, Philip Ulman and Steven Tilley

Year: 2003

Event: 2003 TheMHS Awards


Type of resource: TheMHS Awards

Award state: NSW

Award level: Winner

Award category: Broadcast

Abstract: “The Department of Lost Voices” tells the personal stories of how people with schizophrenia are “treated” in the criminal justice system. Broadcast as part of a four part services on crime and punishment on Radio National’s Radio Eye program in October 2002, the documentary relies on the personal testimony of people with schizophrenia to reveal the failings of “care in the community”. The documentary begins with a report on how a man with schizophrenia is beaten senseless by a fellow inmate in a NSW prison. The man had been placed in the cell “for his own safety”. The Department of Lost Voices was the result of three months research, and recordings did not begin before preliminary meetings with the NSW Schizophrenia Fellowship and the Matthew Talbot Hostel in Sydney – both organisations provided detailed background information and guidance, as well as contacts with a community who, through years of mistreatment, often feel alienated from society. The people in the program gave their time generously, even though the stories they told of life in prison and on the streets were often extremely painful. As the nature of schizophrenia is often misunderstood by the general public, the program included readings by Simon Champ from his essay “A Most Precious Thread” – an account of his own experiences with schizophrenia. Although this is inevitably a dark program which does not come up with “answers”, it was run in conjunction with other Radio National programs which put in context of the often overheated Law N’ Order debate. Listeners were pointed toward a specially designed website – run with the series, with links to mental health organisation, and proposals for a more humane system (including text of a speech to the Institute of Criminology by Frank Walker: Mental Health and the Criminal Justice System. Description of Facility/Organisation:

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