The following is taken from the website of the Honorable Tammy Franks MLC – please consider visiting her site here.
Before we re-post the transcript, Megan, John and myself would like to thank Tammy Franks for her herculean effort in this and for supporting Capril. This will help take us to the next step and hopefully have many more people cape up during April each year and really find out just how their friend, family or loved one actually is. In our effort to remove the stigma of depression and anxiety from society and help people get the support and treatment they need, we could not have found a better superhero than Tammy Franks. Thanks Tammy for all your hard work and future cape wearing.
Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. T. A. Franks:
That this council—
1. Commends the endeavours of Capril in raising awareness of depression through their campaign encouraging members of the community to wear a cape in the month of April as a sign of ‘cape-ability’ and
2. Notes the funds raised will go to ‘Beyond Blue’s’ national depression initiative.
(Continued from 4 April 2012.)
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins): I call the Hon. Gerry Kandelaars in his cape.
The Hon. G.A. KANDELAARS (16:57): I commend the Hon. Tammy Franks for moving the motion before us today, a motion which endeavours to highlight Capril, an initiative raising awareness of depression in our community. The campaign encourages members of the community to wear a cape in the month of April as a sign of ‘cape-ability’, and I note that the funds raised will go to beyondblue, a national depression initiative.
Wearing a cape for the month of April to highlight depression is in honour of Richard Marsland, who sadly took his own life some years ago after a long battle with depression. Prior to this sad loss, Richard sought counselling, assistance and support and lived a very wonderful and productive life in the arts, comedy and entertainment. He also contributed to the Sunday Mail as a writer.
Originally Capril was a collaboration between listeners and the hosts of a Triple M radio show ‘Get This’ that Richard was involved in. Listeners, guests and hosts were encouraged to wear capes during their everyday activities throughout April and to send their photographs to Triple M as proof. The cape is often associated with superheroes, and the Hon. Ms Franks recognised this in her motion, that is, that the effort and sometimes simply getting up and moving on each day with your life when experiencing depression can take a superhuman effort.
It is important that we all work hard at destigmatising mental illness in our society. The stigma associated with mental illness prevents some people from accessing mental health services due to fear and prejudice. People with a lived experience of mental illness report experiencing discrimination on a regular basis. Stigma can include being treated disrespectfully, being denied access to the same opportunities as community members, or being responded to with dismissal or fear.
Stigma can lead to an exclusion and a disengagement from community life.
The 2007 Stepping Up report by the Social Inclusion Board identified the need for a public awareness campaign around this issue of stigma. SA Health’s Let’s Think Positive campaign, launched in February 2012, aims to improve the general community perception of people who have mental illness by asking people to think about how they treat others and how their actions can impact on them and their wellbeing.
Three real-life scenarios of a person’s working, social and family life have been depicted in three separate commercials which were shown throughout April on free-to-air TV and, I am told, will again run in June this year. The media campaign follows similar successful campaigns in Scotland, New Zealand and Canada.
Destigmatisation also has a strong link to suicide prevention. In January this year, the government released a draft suicide prevention strategy. South Australians are being invited to share their views on a new draft suicide prevention strategy, and I would encourage any members of the community who have an interest in this matter to input into that. The state government and SA Health have developed this collaborative strategy to encompass different departments, officials, experts, consumers, carers, charities and other non-government organisations to raise awareness of suicide prevention services. The strategy will also outline common risk factors for suicide and focus on training and research as well as the elevation of existing programs.
The state government’s legislative reforms have seen one focus being on the destigmatisation of mental illness in our society. The Mental Health Act 2009 was an important step forwards and provides a framework for a new era in mental health treatment and services in South Australia. The act came into effect on 1 July 2010. This legislative reform is in line with recommendations of the 2007 Stepping Up report of the Social Inclusion Board and is intended to provide better treatment and support of South Australians with mental illness.
South Australia’s Community Visitor Scheme is established under the Mental Health Act and commenced operation on 11 June 2011. The key objectives of the Community Visitor Scheme are: to advocate for the rights of mental health care consumers within treatment centres; improve consumer and carer experiences with the community health centres; identify and make recommendations on gaps in service provision for consumers and carers; and increase accountability and transparency within mental health service provision.
The Mental Health (Inpatient) Amendment Bill 2012, currently before this place, seeks to address a common public perception that a detention and treatment order (for compulsory mental illness treatment) involves locking up a mentally ill person much like a criminal is locked up in a correctional facility when, in reality, contemporary mental health care provides for an involuntary patient to be under supervision in a non-secure environment in accordance with the objects and principles of the act. This common perception contributes to a negative stigmatisation at a time in the involuntary patients’ lives when compassion and support are required.
Sadly, it has been suggested that one in five of us at some time in our life will suffer from a form of mental illness, so it is important that we make our community aware of the issues and, more particularly, where people can go to gain assistance; beyondblue is one of the many organisations that do great work in this area, and funds donated through Capril will go to this very worthy organisation. Again, I commend the Hon. Tammy Franks for bringing this matter before the house, and I commend this motion to members in this place.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Hon J.S.L. Dawkins): I call the Hon. Ms Michelle Lensink in a very colourful cape.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (17:05): I will be brief in support of the motion, because the origins and a lot of history and some of the contemporary approaches to mental illness and how it should be perceived has already been covered very eloquently by the previous speaker and also by the mover, the Hon. Tammy Franks, who will, no doubt, make some more comments when she sums up. I would like to also commend her on moving this motion because it is a very important issue and it is important to note that it has received multi-partisan support.
The wearing of a cape is a very novel way to raise awareness of mental illness. It is certainly a conspicuous garment, not something that most of us would choose to wear on a regular basis. I have to say that offers to colleagues to borrow this crushed red velvet cape have not resulted in acceptance of that offer forthcoming from them. Increasing awareness of mental illness and depression is very important. Depression is often described as a democratic illness because it does not discriminate between walks of life, gender or race, and 20 per cent of people can expect to have it at some stage in their life.
Stigmatisation and, I guess, embarrassment about having a mental illness have decreased quite significantly in our community. We have had a number of high-profile people over the years who have confessed to not being perfect and to having suffered from depression and I think that has certainly helped in the general community for people to realise that they need to seek help. It is that help-seeking behaviour that we really need to encourage.
In fact, I was looking at some dopey media website today about Gwyneth Paltrow and apparently her husband had suggested to her, after one of her children had been born, that she was suffering from postnatal depression. It was not until he had said something that she realised that she probably was. I think the more people who are aware of depression, the more likely they are to seek help and, obviously, that is incredibly important in suicide prevention. I note that my colleague the Hon. John Dawkins happens to be in the chair and has a very special interest in suicide prevention.
Beyondblue will be the recipient of donations. It is a very good cause and has been around for quite some time under the stewardship of Jeff Kennett. Some of its achievements include the Men’s Shed and the Men’s Shed online and Movember. It also has a very comprehensive website which is run in conjunction with the Mental Health Council to assist people with mental illness to secure the right health insurance. It provides free training to small and medium businesses to prevent and manage depression and anxiety in the workplace, and it played a significant role in supporting victims of floods and bushfires.
Beyondblue recognises that there can be traumatic episodes that can lead to the development of mental illness in our community. I think the rapid identification of illness and its management, and people getting help and realising that they are not alone is a very worthwhile cause, and I commend the motion.
The Hon. K.L. VINCENT (17:08): I am just going to say a few very brief off-the-cuff words about this very important topic. Like other members who have spoken, probably more eloquently than I am going to, I commend the Hon. Tammy Franks on raising this motion in parliament about the very important issue of challenging the stigma of mental illness.
Unlike other members, however, I am not wearing a cape today due to implications it would have on the use of my wheelchair. Ironically, a cape has turned out to be my kryptonite, so I am not wearing one. However, I have tried, with the cape-like jumper that I am wearing. There has been some argument in my office as to whether it is more cape-like or more poncho-like. However, given the gravity of this issue we can put novel matters like that aside for a moment and get back to the topic at hand, and that is, of course, the issue of tackling the stigma around mental illness in our society.
As the Hon. Gerry Kandelaars has mentioned, Capril does aim to highlight the strength and capability of people living with mental illness in our community. However, I think it is important to touch on the fact that that strength probably would not have to exist to the extent it currently does if stigma were not such a problem. People would not have to try as hard to be as strong as they are if they did not come up against as many challenges as they do because of the stigma and the secretive nature that currently exist around mental illness.
Of course, for many people mental illness does come under the banner of disability, and for that reason it is a big focus for me in this parliament and for the Dignity for Disability Party as a whole, in particular raising issues around the adequate treatment of mental illness. It was only yesterday that I raised questions about the imminent closure of eight acute forensic mental health beds despite the very self-evident crisis in the mental health sector. I think that is just as important to address as the stigma in the wider community, and I very much look forward to doing that.
With those few words, I again commend the Hon. Ms Franks for raising this motion, and I look forward to participating again next year. It has been an honour to help the cause financially through a donation, even if I cannot do it in the vestment sense, and I look forward to doing that in years to come.
The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (17:11): I commence my remarks by indicating my support for the motion and commending the Hon. Tammy Franks for bringing it to this council. Depression is certainly a serious illness that many individuals around South Australians suffer. It is an illness that, if left untreated, can have dire consequences. Many people in this state, both in the metropolitan area and across the regions, suffer from depression and its many unwanted side-effects, and it is a constant battle for many to overcome it.
Unfortunately, in my view efforts all over the nation continue to receive inadequate resources to combat the problem of depression. We find ourselves relying more and more on private initiatives and community organisations to stem the problem. That is not a bad thing in that those organisations, as I think we all know, do a great deal with a small amount, but there is more support that can be given to them.
I have spoken on many occasions in this place about the organisation called CORES, Community Response to Eliminating Suicide, an organisation that does great work not only in the area of suicide prevention but also in educating people on how to identify depression and all other forms of mental illness, and it does that work on the smell of an oily rag. Obviously, today we are here to talk about Capril, and I commend that organisation for the way in which it is identifying and highlighting the issues and the need for other people to become involved.
Another organisation that is known to me, in South Australia particularly, is MOSH, Minimisation of Suicide Harm. This group also does terrific work particularly with those who are left behind after a suicide, dealing with people who are impacted by suicide who can quite often suffer their own form of depression as result of something that has happened within the family.
There is a number of these organisations that do terrific work. The staging of the celebration, if I can call it that, of Capril’s work coincides with the closing of public consultation for the state government’s new suicide prevention plan, which the Hon. Mr Kandelaars mentioned. I do hope that in that plan the government takes special note of the organisations such as Capril, CORES and MOSH, and many others including of coursebeyondblue, who work in this broad area.
I would hope that perhaps the government takes note of the two motions that passed through this parliament last year, one in this house and one in the other house, one that I moved here and one that was moved by the member for Adelaide in another place, that emphasised the importance of the community as gatekeepers in mental health, particularly in the area of suicide intervention, but also working with people in the community who have the signs and the problems and who will not speak to someone close to them but will talk to someone else in the community who has been identified as understanding and being able to identify these things. All these organisations do terrific work and I really do hope that the government acknowledges that.
However, that confidence was dented a little bit yesterday when the leader of the government brought back a response in this place. I do not blame her for the delay, but I asked a question on 19 May last year (that was to the leader) as to whether the minister for health and the minister for employment, training and further education would investigate with their respective agencies in South Australian universities the opportunities for medical students and those studying in associated professions to have community based suicide prevention training included in their studies. That followed my trip last year to Tasmania, where all the medical students at the University of Tasmania go through the CORES training. It was going to be extended, I think, into the nursing sector and other associated professions.
After 12 months, less a fortnight, I got a response back yesterday which said:
SA Health is reviewing suicide prevention strategies across South Australia as part of the development of the South Australian suicide prevention strategy. A draft of this strategy was released for consultation in January 2012 and the results of the consultation will be used to finalise the strategy. Developing and enhancing community-based suicide prevention initiatives across South Australia will be a key component of the final strategy.
I was almost insulted by that answer, after having to wait for 12 months. It completely ignored my query about whether this government would include some community-based training in this area—whether it be in the area that Capril works, or MOSH or CORES—in the medical training of students in this state. It was completely ignored after 11½ months of consideration.
It does not give me a lot of confidence in what the strategy will come up with. I live in hope however, and we keep working away at these things. Certainly, as I said earlier, both houses of parliament passed those motions last year (there was a slight amendment in the lower house) to support community organisations in being at the front of work in the community against depression and obviously against suicide.
I would hope that the government takes notice of those two motions.
Once again, I commend the Hon. Tammy Franks for bringing this motion to the chamber. I think every piece of work that is done by a member of parliament within and outside the building helps to destroy the stigma we have had in the community about talking about these issues. The more that we as members of parliament and other members of the community talk about depression, talk about the mental health issues that were always taboo in the community, and, in particular, talk about suicide, the better.
I think we have more coverage of these issues in the media than we have ever had. There is still some resistance, but I think the more that we as leaders in the community talk about it the better, and I commend the Hon. Tammy Franks for bringing it to us.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (17:21): I rise briefly to thank members for their contributions. I thank the Hon. John Dawkins for his ongoing commitment to mental health issues and support, particularly in the area of community groups and the work that can be done by the community to tackle mental illness and promote better mental health. I also thank the Hon. Michelle Lensink, who not only caped up for her speech but caped up for the photo shoot with the Hon. Gerry Kandelaars, and both of them were very enthusiastic in that task of raising awareness of Capril through the media as well.
I thank the Hon. Kelly Vincent for her contribution and ongoing support for all people with disabilities and, in particular, recognising that mental illness is indeed a disability; it is not something that somebody has by choice and that it should be seen as part of the disability sector. I also thank Mr Steven Marshall (member for Norwood) for his participation in Capril, and I note that South Australian politicians contributed to the overall task of Capril to raise money for beyondblue by raising at least over $400 of the $3,654 that has been raised so far. I do thank, in particular, those members who made not only a contribution of wearing a cape but also a financial contribution.
I recognise the work of Megan Orrin, Angus McLaren, John Murch and Tracey Davis in raising awareness of Capril over the past month, and I note that in doing so we honour the life of Richard Marsland, who was a very special South Australian—an extraordinary South Australian who had actually caped up during his lifetime—by wearing cape in the a month of April after his death. We acknowledge that even the most ordinary of us can do extraordinary things; however, we can never do it alone.
One of the comments made on the Capril website was, ‘Depression is as welcome as a yellow-bellied snake at a barbecue.’ I would agree with that; I certainly think that depression is the last thing that anybody would wish upon even their worst enemy. I do bemoan the fact that we all know what to do if somebody falls over and cuts their knee—everyone will rush to help them—but if somebody is crying, lost, and without purpose, we tend to move away from that person rather than go to their aid.
I also hope that we will see a focus on mental health first aid, as part of first aid both in workplaces and in our general lives. I certainly commend the state government for taking on suicide prevention as a priority issue, and I look forward to those debates in coming months. With that, I thank those members who have participated. I hope that we will not be hearing of depression leading to people taking their lives and that we will see the scourge of depression be less lethal in the future due to both education and awareness: Capril is just one small part of that. With that, I commend the motion to the council.