The national framework for recovery-oriented mental health services recognises the importance of the right of self-determination to recovery. Although Australia and NSW have policies that embrace the consumer-led movement, there remains significant gaps in its delivery resulting in individuals becoming entrapped. The Callan Park Consumer Empowerment Project will help address this gap.
The project is directed by mental health consumers themselves independently from the Health Department’s funding and responsive to those most affected by severe mental health issues. It will restore trust and reduce unnecessary restrictions and obsolete practices, in keeping with the language of recovery and the consumer-led movement.
Governments and the community have ethical and legal obligations to reactivate Callan Park for the primary benefit of mental health consumers. It’s community legacy acknowledges the past inhumane behaviour towards mental health consumers. By implementing a positive mental health community space, Callan Park can move forward into a better space to support consumers. It will also breathe new life into the park through an innovative community based mental health hub that ensures cost-effective public ownership of the park to the benefit of the community and primary stakeholders.
Callan Park was bought by the Government in 1873 for a mental asylum and held hundreds of thousands of people with psychiatric disabilities – consumers, until its closure in 2008. The Royal Commission into Callan Park Hospital in 1961 revealed serious institutional problems that persist today in our health institutions: coercive practices including forced medication, seclusion, overcrowding and hopelessness. Poorly-managed staff behaviour further traumatised vulnerable people whom they were employed to protect.
It is now our duty to ensure fundamental reform that deals with the human rights failures that damage both society and individuals. From this legacy, we demonstrate maturity as a civilised society to provide contemporary mental health and to facilitate inclusion of those with disability and to empower the disadvantaged.
The submissions to the Callan Park Master Plan identified service gaps in the promotion of recovery and wellness following illness.
Justice Action had previously created a proposal for a consumer housing cooperative in Callan Park. Read about it by clicking on the link below. This proposal has now been superseded by the Mental Health Consumer Project Proposal.
Callan Park as a wellness hub on humane and contemporary mental health support, demonstrates the empowering consumer-led approach, facilitates choice, recovery, and social inclusion, and embraces consumers with respect and hope. The Callan Park 2010 Master Plan’s vision is to redevelop the park as “a sanctuary for mental health consumers”. The Wellness Sanctuary proposal is formed around a consumer-run social enterprise, oriented to peer and lifestyle support, offering research and training facilities. One of its goals is to amplify the voices of mental health consumers.
Rose Cottage is proposed as the Wellness Sanctuary and would incorporate heath, education and community. Rose Cottage is an ideal site for the proposed Wellness Centre headquarters or Hub. The Mental Health Coordinating Council (MHCC) previously utilised Rose Cottage, however, since their relocation it has been vacant and thus could be utilised for the development of the Wellness Sanctuary. Here, the principles of the Master Plan and “Our Backyard Report” would be incorporated and employed.
Over the weekend of the 24th and 25th of April 2021 Justice Action created an information booth in front of Rose Cottage. Flyers were handed out to bypassers. On the 16th of May, Justice Action put up the Mental Health Consumer Project sign (pictured below) in order to prepare for a meeting on the 17th that will decide whether Rose Cottage will be used as a consumer base for mental health.
Justice Action wished to plant some beautiful roses in order to represent a nurtured community at Callan Park as they wished to stake their vision of the Wellness Sanctuary. The first roses planted were deemed to be too close to the sandstone walls due possible negative effects on the footing and rising damp. Roses were then replanted at a more suitable distance away from the sandstone walls however were removed due to DPIE preparing to implement a series of landscape improvements.