Sane Australia and other organisations are making good use of social media at the moment, in their drive for funding. It was well timed alongside Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley calling for integrated mental health care in Australia.
The health minister, Sussan Ley, will press for a coordinated national approach to mental health in what she describes as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity for serious reform”.
Is Ms Ley proposing something different from the IPA’s wish list of policies as illustrated in the 2014 Federal budget? Reduced funding for health care over the years has been a prominent part of the neo-conservative, neo-liberal Governments in a number of countries, including Australia. The involvement of non-religious NGOs in this discussion and the Royal Commission into Family Violence is necessary to keep this from devolving into something Sheriff Arpaio might envy.
What’s really sinister about this particular iteration, though is the way it’s come together with the private prison industry. We have been observing this increasingly in Australia and most people probably just don’t want to know, at this point. It’s one of those things like Asylum seeker policy or standards in public nursing homes, you know it’s wrong, you know it has to change, but where to start?
Fortunately now we have social media, so people online can raise Sane’s profile now as easily as we told Woolies to fuck off the other night. We can make reputable organisations the speakers for health care and shame any politician who dares move against them.
So when someone proposes having overseas based multi-national private prison companies handling mental health care in Victorian prisons, they’ll be laughed out of office. And when the Commonwealth Bank back the project, people will ask what they were thinking. And when the construction company involved, John Holland, is sold to a Chinese consortium, that will look kinda strange.
As part of the rising tide of wondering what the fuck happened to Australia’s social policy, people are demanding funding for programs that reduce domestic violence. Partly because it’s a national shame and partly because these programs help stop people becoming mentally ill or incarcerated, years before they start getting into trouble. Instead of giving $310 million to a private prison company, spend it on Sane and other qualified organisations with a track record of making a difference. And it has about five times as much worth, at that end. For every $1 you spend on early intervention, you save $4 on incarceration, isn’t that the current estimated ratio?
That private prison isn’t finished yet. You drive past it on the Deer Park bypass, it’s that big new thing out there. That means poor Tones won’t have a bed, yet. The Mad Monk will have to stay in the cupboard at the Police campus, or where ever he was hiding out. Because you know the only mentally ill people who end up in a prison like that are the kind who would send 3500 soldiers to Afghanistan as a joke. Right?
You wouldn’t want a program like that turning up at the same time as the Government wants to collect everybody’s metadata for two years. At the same time as they’ve proposed laws that remove judicial oversight from Federal warrant executions. I mean, it would look like something from Orwell. What do they think we are, Americans?