CEO Update - This week I found the news very hard to reconcile

Ball tampering has dominated the news cycle. What could possibly be worse than ball tampering by Australians in a test match?

Caught in the act by cameras straining for a close up view, Australian cricket endured a shameful exposé. Cheats. This was shocking for politicians and punters alike, and the media was full of public displays of disappointment.  

Only days later, the players involved were sent home from the South African tour, stripped of their leadership positions, banned for a year, sponsorhips withdrawn, and left with reputations only somewhat restored by what looked to be sincere contrition – again, all played out publically, all captured in excruciating detail by the world’s media.

Even in the aftermath, there remains much talk of a further purge of Cricket Australia; the Board, the CEO, perhaps more players? There will be no rest until this wrong is righted, and the world’s eyes will be watching vigilantly until it is.

And then, later in the week, more horror footage. This time a disability pensioner being dragged from his own home and beaten into submission by police. Capsicum spray, batons, an overwhelming number of police officers, verbal taunts, public humiliation.

And why were the police in attendance? Because one of the man’s care team was concerned for his mental health.

We were concerned for a man’s mental health and have a system that relies on us sending the police. No CAT team, no peer worker, no de-escalation, no prolonged negotiation, no safe house. We sent in the police.

This time it was not the world’s media that captured the event. Rather the man’s own CCTV recorded the horrifying footage. CCTV equipment that he had installed himself when he was the victim of a previous robbery.

The footage has only just come to light; the event occurred last year.

But unlike the ball the tampering, there has been no inquiry. There have been no suspensions. It seems no witnesses to the event thought it necessary to report it to anyone in authority. Now that an inquiry has begun, police won’t comment.

Media attention lasted about a day. Not the world’s media – just a spot on the ABC and some follow up from other outlets.

If politicians were talking about the incident, I did not hear them. I have heard few calls for a shakeup of our police, and fewer still for a shakeup of our response to mental illness.

We spent the week talking about grown men in South Africa rubbing a cricket ball with sandpaper. How can it be that that left us no room to talk about a disability pensioner with mental health issues being violently confronted and restrained by police?

I wonder whether it is the media that has lost its way, or whether they are simply serving our misplaced priorities.

Warm regards

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer

Rate this article: 

© 2024 Mental Health Australia All rights reserved.