Progress in Youth Mental Health Planning


Queensland Health now have a website that deals specifically with their actions in relation to the Barrett Adolescent Centre Closure Commission of Inquiry. This will provide information on plans for the new extended treatment and education facility as well as other related developments and, along with this site and the dedicated page at Health Consumers Queensland, it’ll inform people of ways they can become involved in plans for future services and policies. Regular Communiqués will be posted on this page along with any other news and relevant information. (As of 8 November, the following two Communiqués have been released – Issue 1; Issue 2.)

Among the activities already underway are:

  • workshops, facilitated by Qld Health’s Commission of Inquiry Implementation group, to create a draft Model of Service for the new centre on the site at Prince Charles Hospital where consumers, carers and practitioners are collaborating to establish the key attributes of the treatment, training, support and culture that will be available at the new centre
  • co-design sessions where the architects of the new building and the consumers and carers discuss issues related to the layout and structure of the facility
  • the HCQ survey has been live for almost four weeks and is getting some extremely valuable responses. (If you haven’t had your say yet, please head to the Survey Monkey page and give us your insights into what’s needed.)
  • the HCQ Engagement Advisor, Leonie Sanderson, is immersed in planning a tour of regional Queensland in order to meet with young people, their families and communities to find out what’s needed throughout the state. If you want to be involved in those or give input via some other means – or sign up to receive regular updates on progress – you can contact Leonie at
  • the Consumer Reference Group, facilitated by HCQ, met for the first time following the meeting with the Health Minister on the 12th of October and will continue to meet to discuss the issues that will be taken by the representative to their Steering Committee, Oversight Group and Working Group meetings. (Anyone wanting to have input into these general Consumer Reference Group meetings can contact Leonie at HCQ.)

News and updates will continue to be posted here at but we’re finally able to say that there are others now supporting this issue – HCQ and Queensland Health’s Commission of Inquiry Implementation group particularly – who are listening and facilitating the progress of new services and providing information on that to the general public. Both groups have pledged a commitment to listening to people in the community with the need for, or an understanding of, mental health services for young people. So I urge all such people to use this opportunity as best you can – we begged for a say and now we have it. Some people will understandably feel that the damage of the past is too great to surmount in order to become involved. We know those people, we truly understand their position and we’ll continue to support them in every way we can. For many others, there remains a cynicism about the motives of politicians and bureaucrats – a very logical reaction to the years of condescension and arrogant ruthlessness that inflicted repeated cruelty on more than a few. I will admit to harbouring my own doubts as a result of the treatment the previous government metered out to desperate and vulnerable people between November 2012 and February 2015. However, we will achieve nothing if we enter into shared planning opportunities with a negative approach. It may go against the feelings that experience has ingrained in us BUT we must acknowledge that this is a different government. And their response to the Barrett community has been the polar opposite of that of the previous government. In addition, Queensland Health is not a replica of the body that operated under Minister Springborg – there are new faces and both the politicians and public servants are saying all the right things about inclusion, respect and co-design. We will only achieve the best services possible if we take those with the power to create and mould new systems and services at their word. And tell them what is needed. If they don’t know, they can’t provide it. So please do get involved if you are able.

Finally, and most importantly, I’d like express sincere admiration for those consumers and carers who have stepped up to be directly involved in the planning process. There are some impressive people  who have already given of their time and energy to talk about issues that are not easy to discuss, including several young people who have personal experience of severe and complex mental health issues. Their involvement is a clear demonstration of true courage, strength and compassion and cannot go unrecognised. No one finds it easy to talk about challenging issues, particularly those of personal significance. No one finds it easy to become engaged in a government process with unfamiliar people in unfamiliar environments and procedures. So to know that we are part of a community where people have taken such brave and selfless action is a something of which we can be profoundly proud. We can only hope it leads to better days ahead for everyone.

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