Thursday, February 07, 2013

I'm out of the sinbin. The community is rallying and waiting. Steeleweed is doing a great thing. Hopefully life is not changed too much.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

More links: kathy k 1 and Kathy k 2
One of the best things about the Agonist a year or so ago were the Economic/Business forums mainly contributed to by Mauberly. With the change to Wordpress, Maub was not given any facility to continue his posts due to technical problems with buddypress. He started his own blog. In order to keep uptodate with his posts, and a RSS feed of comments from agonist I created this page, linking to it via my name at The Agonist. Times are currently precious at and the link has been removed. Maybe the RSS feed will be removed next....

Monday, February 04, 2013

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Friday, February 01, 2013

Doing the happy dance, image (c) ZARA Tanzania Adventures.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

I wish we'd All been ready Oh yeah!

Data, Fog, Apparitions....

I read with awe. APPARITIONS IN THE FOG. So much information to comprehend. We can read, but do we really understand?

Monday, January 28, 2013

I'm with Fr Peter

Great to see this in todays Canberra Times :

Mentally ill suffer from lack of love

'We have a middle-aged lady with severe clinical depression … she's got nowhere to go. Can you help?''

''We've a man in his late 30s with schizophrenia. He's been hospitalised these past few months. We've stabilised him, so he's ready to leave, but there's nowhere for him to go. Can you help?''

''We've a young woman …''

Every fortnight or so for the past 2½ years these and similar telephone pleas have been fielded by our office at HOME in Queanbeyan, a community-based initiative that provides a loving home for 19 men and women with mental illness who cannot live independently or are at risk of homelessness. Significantly, nine of our 19 residents are from Canberra.

HOME, which opened in July 2010, is a living example of a community providing national leadership in the vexed area of mental health. Indeed, HOME's approach is unique in that it provides 24/7 care without receiving any recurrent government funding - government did assist significantly with capital costs: federal ($2 million) and NSW ($750,000). Our survival, then, is totally reliant on the generosity of philanthropy, businesses, schools, mums and dads.

The ''problem'' with HOME, which is also its strength, is that residents are supported for the long term so there is virtually no turnover - not for the first time, there is no room at the inn. Hence those phone calls, most of which come from social workers or one of the mental health teams in Canberra.

Frankly, we have a crisis at our feet, one that continues to be left pitifully unaddressed by governments, churches and society at large. This is especially the case in regard to the provision of long-term supported accommodation.

Too much of the public (and policy) conversation is centred on clinical care. Thus, people become objectified as an illness to be treated, rather than a human being with an illness. And while getting the clinical-medication mix right is essential, there is another conversation we need to have - the one about love and friendship.

Bear with me.

In July 2009 I had the privilege of attending a talk by Jean Vanier, the founder of L'Arche, which provides live-in support and care for people with intellectual and physical disabilities in 40 countries. Jean recounted his first experience of visiting a psychiatric institution in France almost half a century ago.

''I approached the visit,'' he said, ''with great trepidation and fear, asking myself: 'What will I say to these people? How will I act? What will they say to me?' When I arrived at the asylum I was confronted by dozens of men walking aimlessly up and down a spacious room seemingly carrying the weight of deep anguish and loneliness.

''My stay lasted an hour and all I was asked over-and-over during that time were three questions: 'Do you love me? Will you come back? Will you be my friend?' ''

These questions are underpinned by what I call relational poverty - an entrenched isolation in which there is minimal and, often, no meaningful human contact. Among people with chronic mental ill health, for instance, this is an all too pervasive reality, one that leaves those who are very sick fending for themselves on the streets, in refuges, jails and public housing estates throughout the nation.

When people are overwhelmed by this kind of poverty, their capacity to engage, find work, get better and live with dignity is significantly diminished, sometimes even extinguished. And while there is a genuine desire by community, governments, NGOs and churches to address the plight of our most vulnerable, much of what we do is underpinned by impersonal charity - lots of giving and receiving of things, but little giving of ourselves. Within this milieu we tend towards addressing ''houselessness'' (physical needs) rather than homelessness (relational needs). Thus, nothing really changes for those who are lonely, isolated and very sick.

HOME in Queanbeyan recognises that friendship within a safe, secure and loving setting is the key to addressing the relational poverty experienced by people with chronic mental ill health. The so-called ''struggle-town'' that borders the nation's capital has done what no other community has - rallied together to say, ''Yes, you are valued,'' to its most vulnerable citizens.

But while HOME is transforming lives, there are still far too many people in Canberra and the region that are sick, unloved and homeless. HOME is a very small part of what needs to be a concerted, national response.

It is time to change the public conversation about our mental health crisis: Let's talk about love. It is also time to talk about another HOME, a HOME in Canberra.

Over to you.

Father Peter Day, a Catholic priest, is co-chair and a proud resident of HOME in Queanbeyan.