Letters

Letters to
the editor

Time to heed MSF call

Surely on the whole we in Australia are compassionate people (Behrouz Boochani, “Five years in purgatory”, September 29–October 5). How can we now ignore the pleas from the highly esteemed organisation Médecins Sans Frontières and our own Australian Medical Association for the evacuation of men, women and children seeking asylum and who after five years of being incarcerated on Nauru are suffering physically and emotionally, with no sense of hope for a safe future – something we would not tolerate if it happened to any of our loved ones? As MSF Australia’s director, Paul McPhun, said, “There is nothing humanitarian about saving people from sea only to leave them in an open-air prison.” Médecins Sans Frontières has been banished from Nauru. Dare I suggest that the loss of the payment the Australian government provides for each man, women and child seeking asylum on Nauru would have anything to do with banishing Médecins Sans Frontières who were deeply concerned to get the sickest children, in particular, to medical treatment to Australia?

– Joan Lynn, Williamstown, Vic

Byelection on climate change

It appears Paul Keating was wrong – John Hewson has shown us a soufflé can rise twice (Mike Seccombe, “The race that has stopped the nation”, October 13–19). I hope the people of Wentworth have the wisdom and will to vote anything but Liberal. It is time to put aside personal aspirations and consider our collective future. In a prosperous society we just have to cut emissions, reduce land clearing, and dissolve inequities in housing, education and health care. These will not be achieved with an anachronistic conservative government.

– Marie Healy, Redfern, NSW

Watt timing

Thank you for Peter Craven’s glowing review of Barry McGovern’s performance in his adaptation of Watt by Samuel Beckett in the October 13–19 issue. Why, though, do you publish such a review that creates a strong urge in the reader to see such a fine performance on the day the show closes? This is tantamount to some sort of torture.

– Dale Bailey, Five Dock, NSW

Insurance industry’s key role

One of the ironies of bringing insurance companies to the table to develop climate change adaptation policies for farmers (Tony Windsor, “Wake up and smell the looming disaster”, October 13–19) is that they are a key pillar propping up the fossil fuel industries. Take QBE, for example. Australia’s biggest global insurer funds the activities of coal, oil and gas companies through its multibillion-dollar investment portfolio and, most importantly, it provides insurance for coalmines, coal-fired power stations, gas pipelines and more. In many cases these dirty projects would be unable to go ahead without insurance. So bring insurance companies to the table by all means, but maybe as a sign of good faith they could stop funding and insuring the very industries fuelling global warming and drought in the first place?

– Pablo Brait, Thornbury, Vic

Community shaped suicide prevention event

The Derby Suicide Prevention Network (DSPN) is responding to Karen Middleton’s article “Lobbyists dominate mental health sector” in the October 6–12 edition. Ms Middleton quotes Professor John Mendoza, a suicide prevention consultant, as being her source of information. The DSPN was formed in 2015 by Derby community members as a body to consult with the local community, raise awareness of suicide and self-harm, but more importantly to raise awareness of available support mechanisms by putting local faces to agencies and coordinating visiting agencies. Unfortunately, Professor Mendoza, who runs a professional consultancy business for suicide prevention and visits Derby to deliver one of his programs through the school, has thus far not seen the value in introducing himself to the network, so has little background on which to make comments. The event titled “Moving forward 4 life” was intentionally run on September 10, World Suicide Prevention Day. The nature of the event, which was a basketball comp, dance-off and hoop-shooting comp, was informed through extensive local consultation with community leaders and elders who instructed the DSPN to engage the kids in living, and provide them with fun, sport and recreation activities, which are always a big hit with the majority of local kids. Also identified in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project in the table of success factors – Selective at-risk groups – young people. The guest speakers were all locals known to the children present, which was the idea of putting a local face up there. The DSPN has identified that there was a gap involved around the stigma over the use of mental health services whether from the local Aboriginal medical services’ Social and Emotional Wellbeing Unit or Kimberley Mental Health and Drug Service. A quote from the article: “It was just entirely inappropriate,” said Mendoza. “I just thought, ‘Wow, that program was funded by the federal government’… It was completely out of context and disconnected to what the community needs.” This is a rather amazing statement from a short-term visitor to the community since the event was shaped entirely on what the community had requested. The DSPN is made up of community members who have ties and relationships that allow the members to engage with the locals who are both directly and indirectly touched by suicide at a level that a fly-in fly-out consultant such as Mendoza will never reach. There was no federal funding involved in the staging of the event, nor was there a visiting government-funded social worker as a guest speaker.

– Ben Burton, operations services manager, Emama Nguda Aboriginal Corporation

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Oct 20, 2018. Subscribe here.