Jeff Kennett’s Indigenous mental health credibility vanishes, but who’s there to fill the vacuum?
Graham Panther

Hi Graham,

Thank you for this important and open reflection. Many mental health advocates noted the deafening silence from our sector agencies during the DonDale outcry.

Social media was dominated by individual voices leading the calls for immediate action to stop such atrocious unacceptable violations, instead of those heading organisations that one would have thought would be at the forefront of advocacy of human rights when most needed.

For a little while I couldn’t specifically pinpoint a sense of unease about something that didn’t feel right in this outpouring of community distress, until in a group of advocates discussed and called this totally inadequate response out. The silence from the whole mh sector was, is unbelievable as it is shameful. I don’t recall seeing or reading a CEO or Chair of any organisation coming out yo make a statement. I could be absolutely wrong and being unfair on this, so forgive me if I am, but I do try to keep upto date with all this, so I don’t believe I missed anything.

An immense sense of shame mixed with cynicism and anger set in. Was silence due to fear of criticising the hand that largely feeds these organisations?? Is it sticking up one’s hand to make a comment, reserved for when an organisation can benefit from pr and “looking” good in “contained ways” that doesn’t really upset the hand that feeds them, their true motivations?

These bring into question who are these organisations audiences and what are their true modus operandi if not to “advocate” for the human rights of our most disadvantaged? Is “advocacy” a sporadic, only useful when it suits activity?

This is a huge slant on all the mental health organisations and their leadership that in essence are condoning inhumane treatment of our most vulnerable, in this silence, to continue today at all the Dondales across the nation. No one has raced to DonDale to get the kids and young people out immediately, to offer urgent care and support in light of their traumatic experiences. Why? Why? Why the silence, and why hasn’t anyone in any of our authorities called the sector accountable?

This surely is a microcosm ot what is occurring elsewhere! Why hasn’t the outrage reached all our youth detention centres around the nation?

If our larger wealthier high profile mh agencies don’t or can’t do the advocacy on such issues, shouldn’t we as the ultimate funding contributors of them be calling them to account for their inaction? Their supposed charters and terms of reference are to keep community members safe and well, they have failed badly.

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