Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Yesterday's newspaper carried

a timely story for us. There was news that the state government plans to shut down the Guardianship Board in favour of a "one-stop-shop". They claim it will make things easier for people who come under the jurisdiction of the Guardianship Board. It won't. It is a move designed to save money.
The Guardianship Board is a tribunal. It consists of a psychiatrist, a lawyer and a member of the general public. The latter is usually someone with some knowledge of the needs of those who have been placed under guardianship.
The man I was speaking of yesterday would have been under the care of the Guardianship Board. They would have dealt with his needs on a routine basis and, unless anything unusual came up, they probably did not see his name at all. Someone in an office somewhere would have signed off on his needs.
But, he needed that board to watch out for him even if they did it indirectly. Without that he might have gone without his basic needs. Had we known of his existence my sister and I would have checked too - but we didn't know and it is too late now.
The idea that the Guardianship Board can be replaced with something else is simply wrong. It can't. People like this man will get lost in the system. They won't get the care they need or deserve. He was intellectually retarded and unable to care for himself. It is even worse for the mentally ill who have no family, no friends and no support network willing to take on the task of ensuring that what is supposed to happen does happen.
It is clear to me that the government officials who made this decision have no understanding of mental illness. They cannot comprehend the terror of existing in a world where there are "voices" in your head or where everything seems black and grey and trying to do anything to help yourself is impossible. Yes, it is impossible. People in this position cannot make considered decisions, if they can make decisions at all. They are ill. They are not lazy.
If this move goes ahead there will be more homeless people. There will be more suicides. We already have too many of these because people were moved "out into the community" and left to wander the streets without activity programmes during the day.
It costs money to care for people - and it is money we cannot afford not to spend. It is our moral duty to care

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