Justice Action proposes this: The provision of a mental health housing cooperative in the area of Callan Park.
Historically, the area of Callan Park has continually provided housing for mental health consumers. Located in Iron Cove, it is a 62-hectare site designed using 19th century-inspired therapeutic landscaping. Despite the park’s architectural beauty, it has been the central focus of numerous debates and struggles throughout the years. In July 2002, a Draft Master Plan for Callan Park’s Rozelle Hospital was made public to the general community by the NSW Government. However, with the plan being withdrawn by October due to widespread concerns, the Callan Park (Special Provisions) Act 2002 was passed to ensure that ‘the whole of Callan Park remains in public ownership and subject to public control’. By 2005, Leichhardt Council emphasised the need for the site to remain a specialist area containing mental health facilities.
Justice Action has developed a well-researched proposal for the provision of a mental health housing cooperative in the area of Callan Park. The ‘Our Backyard’ Callan Park Proposal suggests that mental health consumers be provided with stable, affordable accommodation as a means of both empowering individuals and enabling them to live independently and self-sufficiently. Justice Action’s proposal, which states that the housing cooperative should be based upon the notion of ‘community’, draws inspiration from the Trieste model of mental health services. The Trieste model connects social, medical and informational resources to form a supportive network for mental health consumers to reside in during the process of their recovery.
Consumers will live in homes autonomously, with minimal assistance being provided when necessary. There would be no use of restraint or seclusion, and consumers would be primarily in charge of managing their own treatment plan, working alongside mental health professionals to determine the most effective course of action. Community meetings would encourage further interaction and the development of wider social support networks, whilst simultaneously aiding in the resolution of any issues that arise within the community.
In order to help integrate consumers back into society at large, support services will be provided to aid with education, vocational training and employment. Additionally, the proposal suggests that worker co-operatives be established where both consumers and non-consumers may be employed to work within a varied range of business enterprises.
At the Leichhardt Council’s Extraordinary Meeting on Monday 31st January 2011, Justice Action’s proposal garnered majority support amongst the council members. Further research into the intricacies of the plan’s practical implementation is currently being undertaken by Justice Action.