Media Release November 9, 2017
The death of Miriam Merton in the Lismore Hospital mental ward, lying naked in blood and faeces while a nurse casually mopped around her, shocked everyone. The video footage and media had truthfully exposed the culture to the public forcing accountability. Yet no-one proposed that solution or other ways to prevent similar suffering in the Parliamentary Inquiry into her death last week. This failure shows the corruption in mental health, with noses in the Health Department’s trough of over $20 billion.
The Minister for Mental Health Tanya Davies in announcing the Inquiry said on May 12 that ‘she closed her eyes because the vision was too horrible’. The Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said that ‘this poor woman was treated in a way that none of us could ever really have imagined’. Chief Psychiatrist Murray Wright said the staff involved ‘failed on every level’. But none of the leading organisations nor the Health Department itself addressed Miriam’s death and prevention in their presentations, they just wanted more money.
Our team brought lived experience before the Inquiry with Kerry O’Malley, Douglas Holmes and Dr Yolande Lucire giving oral evidence and a submission. Kerry O’Malley shared her trauma of being abused under Community Treatment Orders, forcibly medicated with disabling side effects and callously ignored.
“I have a wide network of family and friends who support me, and I just want the Health Department to leave me alone,” said Kerry O’Malley.
We referred the Committee to the Our Pick Report and Mad in Australia where the abuse of people like Miriam Merton and Kerry O’Malley was researched, their isolation exposed and a solution proposed. We asked the Committee under its charter, to support the use of Rose Cottage in Callan Park for a consumer run organisation, at no cost to the government, to ensure mental health consumers had their own independent base to do the work of Justice Action. These vulnerable people need responsive representation.