Many pleas for the mentally sick

Boy Cartoon png download - 1124*1600 - Free Transparent ...So many pleas for the mentally ill are reaching The Courier-Mail, following publication of articles criticising the system of public treatment in Queensland, that the Health and Home Affairs Minister (Mr. Arthur Jones) is invited again to say whether the Government intends to order any improvement.

In a statement published yesterday he did not attempt to challenge the accuracy of serious allegations made in the articles and in subsequent letters to the Editor.

As a Minister new to his present office, Mr. Jones cannot be held accountable for the past. But that does not excuse him from taking a positive stand on something that obviously is in need of radical reform.

Criticism falls within two categories. It is against conditions at the Brisbane Mental Hospital, and it favours a review of the whole system of mental treatment.

Among the graver matters The Courier-Mail published was a correspondent's allegation that two men died— in 1944 and 1945 respectively—as the result of assaults by attendants at the Brisbane Mental Hospital. A public inquiry on the circumstantial evidence was suggested.

RESULT: No comment from the Minister

Labouring Jobs

A complaint was made that patients, for whom a boarding and treatment fee of £1/5/ a week was being paid by themselves or relatives, were required to do hard manual labour in the name of 'occupational therapy'— one party having had to dis-inter and rebury 4000 bodies from a cemetery.

RESULT: No comment from the Minister.

Protests were made that all patients at Brisbane were required to line up in the nude for weekly inspection and bath.

RESULT: The Director of Mental Hygiene (Dr. Stafford) replied that the sexes were segregated, and that male nurses in the female wards were not present when female patients were bathed.

No comment from the Minister.

Still No Comment

It was stated that male sex cases were in the same section of the hospital as sub-normal boys.

RESULT: Dr. Stafford claimed there were no known homosexual cases among the patients.

No comment from the Minister.

The Courier-Mail made these suggestions for improvement:—
  • 'A half-way house for minor mental cases;
  • Stricter classification of patients within the Brisbane Mental Hospital:
  • Appointment of a visiting board, to include non-Government members and a psychiatrist not on the hospital staff;
  • Revision of the system under which people are certified as insane and committed to mental hospitals.
RESULT: To all of these, no comment from the Minister.
Criticism 'Too Mild'

Letters continue to arrive at The Courier-Mail office warmly supporting the critical articles. One correspondent says: —

'Your writer is absolutely correct as far as he goes. My onlycriticism is the mild manner in which he treated the subject.

'On the point of manual labour required from patients, I wonder if the public realises that some time back it was costing the taxpayer about £40 a week for warders' wages to watch the patients being worked on the golf course. Gailes is a private golf club.

"As 'occupational therapy' this tending of the golf course is little better than the work of those employed in digging up the dead and re-burying them.

Homosexual Case

'A sex offender served half his sentence of three years for a second offence in Brisbane Gaol and the other half at the Brisbane Mental Hospital. He was placed in a ward to associate with children, and is there at the time of writing.

'Complaints about the food are justified. Meals are cooked in a central kitchen, and by the time they arrive at the wards all except slops and liquids are cold.

'Evidence of brutality is suppressed as being detrimental to the name of the institution; The unwritten law is that one member of the staff must not inform on another.

'Your writer's suggestion for a visiting board for each of the four State mental hospitals is a good one, but only non-Government members should be on the board. Experience has taught that the system of visiting justices is farcical and a waste of public money.

The demand is for an open and public examination, with nothing kept secret.'


Referring to The Courier-Mail leading article, headed 'White Wash and cartoon, the Minister for Health and Home Affairs (Mr. Jones; said yesterday that the fact that The Courier-Mail reporter was able to enter and wander around the Brisbane Mental Hospital without requesting permission was an answer in itself to the 'Closed Door' suggestion.  In addition hundreds of relatives and others visited the hospital weekly.

'I do not resent criticism,' said Mr. Jones, 'and I am not attempting to 'white wash' anybody as suggested by The Courier-Mail.  

I reiterate my statement of yesterday:

'I think it only fair even at this stage that any letters of complaint lodged with The Courier-Mail should be handed to the department to enable a full investigation to be carried out.'  'If The Courier-Mail is not prepared to do this, then the inference is that the editor has resorted to the old newspaper trick of writing letters to himself and then handing them to a reporter for investigation.'

It is further stated that a caller at The Courier-Mail Office laid certain complaints, but requested that his name be not published.  Further, he gave the name of the attendant supposed to be involved.
I can understand these names not being published, but The Courier Mail owes a duty to the public and should make this information available so that the complaints can be fully investigated.'
[The Minister has a duty to take these complaints more seriously than to invent 'tricks' unknown in this office. If his department is getting a fraction of the telephone calls, letters, and personal calls that this office is getting on this subject he knows where to start his reforms.— Ed]

Source : https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/49320297

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