Assumptions, Bias, Labels … why the search for justice is elusive

A BLOG POST

I have written previously on this site to try and give context to findings that were less than satisfactory to people who have just wanted understanding and fairness. I had hoped I wouldn’t have to write again.

The Coroner’s Court of Queensland is undoubtedly populated by experienced and deeply knowledgeable individuals – that is not disputed. Neither can it be denied that Talieha Nebauer, Will Fowell and Caitlin Wilkinson Whiticker were each precious, courageous, developing individuals.

And it is INDIVIDUALITY that is at the very heart of the matter that must be illuminated by what has transpired over the 6½ years since the inevitable closure of the Barrett Adolescent Centre was first revealed to be underway.

Each human being is unique. Even identical twins are not actually identical. Each of us has a physical make-up that is not organically replicated exactly in any other person. We are a one-of-a-kind collection of thought patterns and hopes and likes and backstories and quirks and motivations and needs and lifespans. But the world often seeks to put us into categories. To label or pigeonhole. To impose. And sometimes, to assume to know based on superficial information.

The need to classify is often understandable. It’s too hard to start with a totally blank page when dealing with thousands or even millions of people. So we are grouped and assigned and we have to compromise on the parts of ourselves that fall outside the parameters we are supposed to fit within.
And sometimes those compromises aren’t a big deal.
But sometimes they are.

As individuals, none of us has the capacity to be truly objective. Despite it being vital at times in professions and key life moments, our humanity can never totally be shut down. So we bring our histories and agendas and ambitions and perspectives of the world to all that we do.
And sometimes that isn’t a big deal.
But sometimes it is.

 

 

So when an individual provides their input on an issue or event,
what is FACT and what is INTERPRETATION?
And when several different individuals have their say on a particular situation,
who is providing what could be seen as the closest to OBJECTIVE information?

In the case of the Barrett Inquiry and the Coronial Inquest, for example,
whose evidence has been determined to be the EXPERT information on which findings will be based and whose evidence is viewed as FLAWED so has been broadly disregarded?

That has been for the Commissioner and the Coroner to decide. Based on years of legal knowledge, experience and precedents; standard practice; even societal conventions. There are high expectations of everyone involved. Protocols and time limitations to adhere to. It is no easy task and one where compromises must regularly come into play.

Not unlike those compromises we all have to make when we don’t fall into the stereotypes that can be assigned to us.
Like the mothers who have tolerated snap judgements about their relationships with children whose lives are in turmoil. (Because those mothers burst into tears when they finally admit out loud that they’re terrified their child could be dead every time they’re out of sight for more than a minute). But they continue because no other treatment has been effective.
Like the carers who have long given up on hoping vicariously for a life of professional achievement, fulfilling relationships and creative satisfaction for the suffering young person that they love. (They just want them to have a life. And then one that isn’t a never-ending nightmare.) But they continue because they are realistic and determined that the young person’s life will be better in some small way.
Like the parents who have sacrificed a stimulating and useful professional career and their own stable, healthy existence because the young person with such complex needs means more to them than anything else. (24 hr diligence and stress will always take a toll. And a life wholly focussed on another – a loved one who moves from torment to hopeless – drains like nothing else can.) But they continue because know their priorities and their responsibilities. Their child comes before anything for themselves. Anything.

So this blog post is just to note that:
Individuals make compromises based on their priorities.
Individuals categorise based on their particular agenda.
So all we can hope for is that, in every situation possible, everyone will do their best to take in everything each person says and does. As much as possible. Factoring in the context of the information being provided – the role of the individual, their incentive, their bias.
Each individual’s input should be seen as valuable. There should never be judgements based on stereotypes or assumptions.
This approach is something we all hope for many times through our lives. Over trivial incidents. And life changing events. Because it’s the only way to get closer to understanding. And fairness.
And those two things are vitally important. Especially in circumstances where individuals have suffered.
And are suffering.
And could suffer so much that the worst can happen.
If it hasn’t already.

 


The media have reported that the inquest found that “there are no strong links between the suicide of three Queensland teenagers and the controversial closure of a youth mental health facility,  … other factors played a more significant role in the suicides”. To try to consider the situation within the context provided by the people that experienced the closure process and aftermath … click on the button below.

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*KEY ROLES FOR CONSUMERS AND CARERS in Selection of New Centre’s Staff

People with lived experience of severe and complex youth mental health issues have shaped the design of the new inpatient extended treatment centre at Chermside. They have had input into the model of care. AND NOW …

THEY HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SIT ON THE SELECTION PANEL FOR THOSE THAT WILL STAFF THE CENTRE.

Children’s Health Queensland (CHQ) –the Hospital and Health Service under which the new AETC will operate – is committed to having consumers and carers as equal and valued members of the selection panel that will determine the appointments of professionals in the clinical roles at the Chermside Centre.

 

So Expressions of Interest are being invited now
with applications closing on 19 July
for Consumers and Carers to submit their completed forms.*

Consumer and Carers involved will, as has been the case throughout the development of the AETC, be comprehensively supported by Health Consumers Queensland (HCQ) and there will be

  • A 90 minute training session for every consumer/carer who becomes involved in the recruitment process as well as opportunities for pre-brief and post-interview debriefing
  • Reimbursement for travel and parking expenses and
  • Remuneration for time spent training, pre-reading, shortlisting, and interviewing at $40 per hour

We all know that it’s the PEOPLE that make a facility into a HEALING ENVIRONMENT.
And now, it’s those with the personal experience of the types of individuals who can do that whose contributions can lead to the selection of the team who will change lives.

YOU KNOW WHO’S NEEDED.

SO PUT IN AN EXPRESSION OF INTEREST TO BE AT THE TABLE OF THOSE APPOINTING THE STAFF WHO WILL COLLABORATE, RESPECT AND UNDERSTAND.

 

For more information, you can download the following documents:

CHQ on Consumer and Carer Involvement in Staff Recruitment

HCQ’s Recruitment Training

and to put in an Expression of Interest, just click on the link here to download the form.

OR

you can go to the dedicated page on the HCQ website for all you need.

*Note that if you can’t get your form in by 19 July and you still want to apply, you can contact Leonie Sanderson of HCQ on 0437 637 033.

And PLEASE, share this post as widely as possible to give all consumers and carers who might be interested the opportunity to be involved. 

IMPORTANT DECISIONS REQUIRE IMPORTANT PEOPLE 
and the most important people in this process are the Queenslanders who REALLY KNOW about severe and complex youth mental health issues.

NEW EXTENDED TREATMENT CENTRE NEEDS: Therapists, Nurses, Social Workers, Psychologists, …

The team that will provide the holistic treatment and support at the new Adolescent Extended Treatment Centre to open at Chermside in early 2020 will be truly multidisciplinary.

So Expressions of Interest are now being called for:

  • Art Therapists
  • Carer Consultants
  • Dieticians
  • Exercise Physiologists
  • Health Workers
  • Medical
  • Music Therapists
  • Nurses
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Peer Workers
  • Psychologists
  • Social Workers
  • Speech Therapists

This is a unique opportunity to work in a truly collaborative team based in a new purpose built centre focussed on changing the lives of young people and their families. To be able to provide hope, facilitate recovery and witness the development of young Queenslanders with the potential to live productively in the community and finally acknowledge their own value will be a professional experience that is genuinely enriching.

For more information, click here to go the relevant page of the Children’s Health Queensland HHS website  or, to be kept informed of recruitment activity as it unfolds, email a copy of your CV to AETService-Recruit@health.qld.gov.au.

It’s worth noting that CHQ HHS page linked above also has a digital ‘flyover’ video of what the exterior of the new Centre will look like (and from which the images used here were selected). So anyone with any interest at all in the Centre should find viewing this particularly interesting.

*****

Deadline extended for Youth Mental Health Consumer Rep role

Please note that due to a technical glitch with the Health Consumers Queensland (HCQ) website, the deadline for applications for the available Youth Mental Health Consumer Rep role has been extended to Friday 22nd February. So please continue to encourage anyone you know who might have expressed an interest to put in their application.

Click below to go directly to the HCQ page:

EXPRESSION OF INTEREST YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH CONSUMER REPRESENTATIVE OPPORTUNITY

or access information from our previous post at:

Youth Mental Health Consumer Opportunity … 18–29 year olds PLEASE APPLY


 

Medical Director, Statewide Extended Treatment campus advertised

It’s likely to be of particular interest to many for whom child and youth mental health issues are important that Children’s Health Queensland (CHQ) is now advertising a position of some significance.

CHQ is the state government Hospital and Health Service under which the facility to be constructed at Chermside following the recommendations of the Barrett Adolescent Centre Commission of Inquiry will operate as one of the many vital options that young Queenslanders can access through the  Child and Youth Mental Health Service (CYMHS).

The position of a Medical Director of a campus focussing on Statewide Extended Treatment is clearly a key role in shaping how the clinical elements of the Model of Service and Model of Care will be delivered and the right kind of leadership and approach will be influential in achieving the best outcomes for the patients and families who access the services offered at that campus. So there are many people hoping for interest from a substantial selection of high calibre candidates with an appropriate management style and collaboration skills as well as excellent clinical qualifications and experience.

With that in mind, this post is to encourage the widespread proliferation of the existence of this vacancy. Because the more people that are aware of this opportunity, the better the chance there is of the appointment of the best Medical Director possible.

The person who fills this position will be pivotal in establishing an environment and tone across a service where those elements can have far-reaching effects – not only on those for whom the right support for severe mental health issues can change the direction of their lives but for the team of professionals who will work collaboratively under the leadership of the Medical Director. And although the title accurately indicates the clinical emphasis of the Director, the campus team for such a service would include staff in important non-medical positions (e.g Education, Administration etc.) whose  input and mutual engagement with those with clinical expertise must be as valued and intrinsically linked to the goals and values of the facility as any other professional contributor. The right Medical Director will be able to unite all those who stay, work at or visit the campus  to create the kind of healing community that provides the outcomes deserved by those affected by the mental health issues the campus aims to address. And his/her leadership and management style will engender a workplace where  dedicated professionals with a range of skills and experience will seek to be able to make a contribution when they know that will be valued, stimulating and productive.

So there can be no doubt that this is a role of significant opportunity and influence in an area where professional and interpersonal attributes beyond those solely medical will be fundamental.

The link to the advertisement for this role is:

https://www.seek.com.au/job/37690108?type=standard

or you can click on the image below to take you there directly.

Please share this post and/or the link above as widely as you can.

Thank you.

Opportunities to be involved in developments in mental health research and treatment

LIVED EXPERIENCE has genuinely moved from being a careful phrase to describe those impacted by mental health issues to being acknowledged as a significant asset in the development of all areas of analysis, understanding and treatment of such issues. Those who KNOW having gone from being INVISIBLE to being INCLUDED (thanks to the dynamic work of some very proactive people) and finally being VALUED.

And those who’ve been personally affected by mental health issues so often feel that they want to do what they’re able to help others to whom they can relate … it seems that experiencing health issues that can so comprehensively affect your thoughts, emotions and the way you live your life breeds deep compassion. The Lived Experience community is made up of some very strong and empathetic individuals.

If you are – or you know someone who might be – interesting in making a contribution to some innovations in mental health approaches, here are some opportunities to consider:

OPENING OF PEER CENTRE AT THOMPSON INSTITUTE

WHEN:   10am, Thursday 27th September
WHERE: Sunshine Coast Mind and Neuroscience Thompson Institute
USC (University of the Sunshine Coast)
12 Innovation Parkway, Birtinya.

This is an informal morning tea event to celebrate the opening of the PEER Centre at the Thompson Institute where the focus is on integrating mental health research, clinical services and teaching. It’s a great chance to go and see what the PEER Centre has to offer and celebrate the opportunities the Thompson Institute is creating for people who use mental health services to be proactively engaged in education and research.

All are welcomed. For more information or if you have the chance to RSVP, you can contact Chérie McGregor, Consumer Services Coordinator at the Thompson Institute on (07) 5456 3893 or at cmcgreg1@usc.edu.au


JOIN ADVISORY GROUP OVERSEEING THE EVALUATION FRAMEWORK FOR THE NEW ADOLESCENT EXTENDED TREATMENT FACILITY

Expressions of Interest are being sought for the positions of one consumer and one carer member of the Advisory Group to be chaired by the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research (QCMHR) tasked with developing an Evaluation Framework for the new adolescent extended treatment facility due to commence operation in 2020. As key stakeholders, consumer/carer input is vital to ensure relevance and appropriateness of the evaluation framework from both technical and service user perspectives.

It’s anticipated that the commitment will require 3 to 4 meetings of about 4 hours each with all other details available here via the Expression of Interest (EOI) form to be submitted through Health Consumers Queensland (HCQ) via email to Leonie Sanderson: leonie.sanderson@hcq.org.au by COB Friday 12 October 2018.  Please phone Leonie on 0437 637 033 for any queries including if you are interested in applying but are unable to submit by this date.


QLD HEALTH VICTIM SUPPORT SERVICE LOOKING FOR CONSUMER/CARER MEMBER FOR GROUP DEVELOPING RESTORATIVE JUSTICE APPROACH IN MENTAL HEALTH AND FORENSIC MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

Restorative justice is an approach that involves the use of an independent trained facilitator working with people who are victims of violence, and a person involved in committing harm, with the aim of repairing harm. Restorative approaches have been used with success over twenty years in across different systems, including youth justice, education, adult criminal justice, community conflict as well as in other health settings and although they have not been used in mental health and forensic mental health services in Australia, their use has been growing since 2012 in England in mental health and forensic mental health services, and forensic mental health services in Calgary and the Netherlands.   

Expressions of Interest (EOIs) are being sought from carers and/or consumers with an interest in participating in the development of an innovative approach to how mental health and forensic mental health services respond to violence to participate in this stakeholder group.  You can download the EOI form here to be submitted by Tuesday 2nd October 2018 and if you have any enquiries, you can contact:
Michael Power
Director, Queensland Health Victim Support Service on
0428 594 119 or michael.power2@health.qld.gov.au


 

Consultation with young people and carers on Brisbane North mental health services

The Brisbane North PHN is seeking Expressions of Interest from young people and parents/carers to participate in some focused consultations around their experience accessing child and youth mental health services in Brisbane North region.  They are interested in hearing the experiences of those who have accessed child and youth mental health services themselves, or for someone they care for.

The consultation will take place on
Tuesday 25th September
from
10am to 12noon

$80 Gift cards will be offered to young people and parents/carers who are invited to attend. 

Click here for further information and for the Expression of Interest form (due by Thursday 20th September 2018).

For further explanation on the purpose, key questions, process of review and existing services, click here to download a Background Paper with more detail on those issues. 

National Youth Health Forum inviting 16 to 30 yr old participants

The Consumers Health Forum of Australia is running a
Youth Health Forum on the 18th and 19th of September this year.
The aim is to bring 40 to 60 young people aged 16 – 30 who are interested in advocacy and leadership to Canberra to discuss the health issues that matter to them most and what can be done to improve the system for them.

The Forum will develop recommendations to improve the health system for young people and a delegation of participants will present these at Parliament House following the event. There are also plans to establish an ongoing Youth Health Forum to continue discussions and advocacy after the kick-off event.

Those aged 16 – 30 interested in participating should lodge an expression of interest form by 29 June. These can be obtained via the following contact details:

Phone: 02 6273 5444
Email info@chf.org.au
Text 0411 299 404

(Former advocacy and leadership experience is considered but is not a requirement.)

There is an evening welcome dinner on the 18 September and the forum itself on 19 September. Accommodation and travel will be funded but unfortunately CHF are unable to offer sitting fees.

Click here to check out the flyer where contact details are also listed

*

PLEASE SHARE THIS ON SOCIAL MEDIA TO GIVE ALL INTERESTED YOUNG PEOPLE THE CHANCE TO APPLY … THANKS!

COMMUNITY INPUT REQUIRED re: Educational Needs of Young People with chronic/complex health conditions

Young people with chronic health or complex mental health conditions require more than simply healthcare. As they grow and develop – and hopefully receive the most effective treatment for their illness/es – their growth and development in all areas must be considered and supported, as is the case with all young people.

So, as the Health Department and Health Consumers Queensland facilitate the engagement of the wider community in the design and development of the new Adolescent Extended Treatment Facility for young people recovering from complex mental health conditions, Queensland’s Education Department is enthusiastic about embracing the input of those with lived experience in order to meet the educational needs of young people at the AETF AND through all stages of chronic illness and/or severe and complex mental health issues.

So, as part of the Department of Education’s commitment to developing and implementing a statewide continuum of educational delivery to support all students dealing with these kinds of health impacts, there will be a community forum where anyone can attend to put forward opinions, ideas and feedback around how to best support the educational needs of young people recovering from chronic health or complex mental health conditions.

Discussion will include issues relating to the new facility (to be located at The Prince Charles Hospital, Brisbane that is due to open in 2020) which will include residential facilities, day program treatment and therapy, and a school program. But young people move to and from different levels of healthcare service and, across Queensland, health issues and their impacts vary with each young person. So each student has specific needs in regard to accessing and gaining benefit from educational opportunities. So the Department of Education would like to ensure that all those needs are met. And only with the input of those who have needed and will need access to education across different circumstances can the full spectrum of types of education, training and rehabilitation services be planned for and provided.

So anyone who has an interest is invited to the:

Consultation Workshop

on

Monday 30 April, 9.15am–12.00pm

at

Conference Room, Autism Hub & Reading Centre (AHRC)
141 Merton Road (Cnr Park Road), Woolloongabba

(The AHRC is next to Park Road train station and Boggo Road bus station and there if free parking available onsite.)

If you click here or on any links in this post, you’ll be taken to the Eventbrite page where you can register to attend.

The program will be as follows:

9.15am–9.30am: Registration

9.30am–10.00am: Introduction presentation

10.00am–11.30am: Consumer workshop; Carer workshop

11.30am–12.00pm: Light lunch and refreshments

Reimbursement for attendance is provided.
Please advise of any dietary requirements.

Please share this on social media or with anyone you feel might be able to contribute in some way. The more that the people with firsthand knowledge can impart to those developing services, the more likely that Queensland’s young people will receive the invaluable education services that can make a significant difference to their lives.

Thank you.

CALLING ALL YOUNG PEOPLE WITH OPINIONS AND IDEAS!!

A lot of different people have been involved in the co-design process still underway for the new Adolescent Extended Treatment Facility to be built at Chermside in Brisbane. And recently the most important people so far have begun to have input – Education Queensland and Health Consumers Queensland were able to facilitate a workshop that included a number of YOUNG PEOPLE THEMSELVES, all of whom made incredibly valuable contributions that will shape many aspects of the new centre.

So now, the Department of Education would like to hear from more young people on issues like:

  • what classrooms and outdoor learning areas should look like
  • what activities the young people attending the centre should be able to participate in
  • how the centre can have as comfortable and homey environment as it possible
  • what skills and knowledge teachers at the centre should have

IN FACT, ANY IDEAS AT ALL!

So …

IF YOU’RE A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT / SOMEONE WHO WAS A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT IN THE LAST 6 YEARS OR SO – OR YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO FITS THAT DESCRIPTION, please spread the word and encourage young people to

TAKE THE SURVEY

It’s quick, easy and online.

And if young people have had experience (personally or through someone else) with mental health issues, those insights would be especially interesting to learn.
But any young person who has ideas on what might be important in a health and education centre that’s going to have residents and day students attending where the focus is on healing and hope for the future can make a really useful contribution.

The survey is at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9WXM99Y
so please use the sharing buttons below to share this post and encourage young people to have their say.

The real experts on what works for young people are young people.
So as many insights as possible from those who know will ensure that the new centre has the best chance of being the place that everyone is hoping it will be.