Last week in Cairns a young lady was found brutally stabbed in her apartment and died at the scene. She was a 24 year old mother of a 5 year old girl and by all accounts was a responsible, well-liked member of the community.
A young man from Kewarra Beach was charged with her murder almost immediately afterwards and is appearing in court later to face the charges. He handed himself in to police but they are still searching for the knife used.
According to reports the man in question had made several recent appearances at the Cairns Base Hospital Mental Health Unit for short stays but was turned away most recently because on the previous occasion he had broken windows and generally trashed the place. This was, according to his father, a cry for help, one which even the most casual observer could recognise.
The Mental Health Unit in Cairns has what is referred to as a revolving door. This is because there are not enough acute beds for those requiring help, and more importantly, nowhere to go when released. This has got to be addressed.
How can we claim that our hospital system is improving and will be more effective and user-friendly if our Mental Health facilities continue to be ignored? One ABC report stated that there are 18 acute care beds in the Hospital and approximately 3'000 people living in the region with mental health related problems. Can anyone else see the problem with that statistic?
I am not suggesting that all those suffering from mental health issues require hospital stays or most especially, acute care, but the numbers that do must be higher than the bed count. How can we justify turning patients away when they so very obviously require assistance? How can we place all the blame onto a young man who's cries for help were ignored?
It is true that the young man in question has committed this crime, even he has admitted it. It is true that this is not a crime that should go unpunished, it is horrific and brutal, that much must be acknowledged. The family and friends of the young lady (especially her little girl) will never forget what has occured and their lives will be changed forever because of this mans' actions. His life will also be forever changed.
There have been many incidences in Australia's history that feature a brutal crime perpetrated by a person with mental health problems. There have been incidences where police have had to use deadly force to subdue them. Mothers have attacked or killed their babies, fathers have killed entire families, others have wantonly destroyed the lives of strangers.
At what point do we recognise the need for this to stop? When will the desperate pleas for help finally be heard and addressed? Will people struggling with their inner demons always feel out of control, with no one to turn to? Will this crisis continue unabated and unfunded until it becomes the politicians who's lives are directly affected which finally makes them sit up and notice what is happening?
We need more acute care beds....NOW! We need more facilities for those needing care after leaving hospital.....NOW!! We need better recognition of mental health illnesses in the wider community.......NOW!! We need more adequate care for those requiring short term help in dealing with anxiety, depression, Agoraphobia etc.....NOW!! We need a better system for new parents that makes them seek help if they need it.....NOW!! We need better services that compliment councelling for those struggling with a divorce or family break-up.....NOW!!
We need to give our entire community all the help it needs to allow us all to remain safe, well and at peace........NOW!!!