The time for waiting is over

By Brendan Nottle - Salvation Army

It is fair to say that nothing in our work in the City of Melbourne is predictable. However, one recent day will stand out in my mind for some time to come.

It started with an orange ferret, standing upright on its hind legs at the top end of Bourke St. It was taking in the surrounds of Florentino’s, Pellegrini’s and Parliament House.  

Suddenly a man in a suit appeared and started talking to the ferret. But this was no ordinary man. It was a Minister of the Crown, followed by a former Premier. As they stood, entranced by the ferret, two young schoolgirls joined them and began feeding the ferret. Fortunately, the minister and his friends departed to a nearby cafe, but that didn’t dispel the end of the day’s unusual happenings. It was simply the beginning.

A young man suddenly appeared and was in great distress. He yelled that he couldn’t keep going and he lunged in front of a tram and then he jumped in front of two cars. Fortunately, we were able to push him back from harm’s way.

We were able to bring this man inside our building when he was suddenly jumped upon by another man who was dealing with schizophrenia but had not taken his medication. 

At the same time, a third man arrived and state that he had been seriously assaulted by one of the men who were wrestling on the floor. He was also making suicidal threats. Police quickly arrived, followed by paramedics. All three men were sectioned and taken to hospital for treatment for serious and complex mental health issues.

Coincidentally, these three incidents unfolded the very day after the landmark and historic report for the Royal Commission into Victoria’s mental health system was handed down to a joint sitting of Victorian Parliament at the Royal Exhibition Buildings. The findings of this report were shocking but not surprising. The 65 recommendations from the Royal Commission are vitally important to ensuring the most vulnerable in our community gain access to the support they so desperately need and deserve. 

But the unabated need for support is clear and present. As a community, we can no longer wait •

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