Don't Let them Die in Vain Print E-mail
Written by John Ferguson   

Herald Sun, WED 04 MAY 2005, Page 020
By: John Ferguson

SO who was Mark Bailey, and will his life mean more in death? It is a name that in normal circumstances would remain in the public mind for weeks, if not months or years.

Despite having shot Sen-Constable Tony Clarke less than a fortnight ago, it is becoming clear that 26-year-old Bailey has been all but forgotten by those unaffected by the trauma of April 24.

Unlike police killers of past generations and circumstances, there seems to be some comfort being taken in the fact that Bailey killed himself; that he was disturbed, rather than a career criminal seeking revenge.

With apologies to his family, Bailey's suicide has taken some of the sting out of the anger that followed the execution of Sen-Constable Clarke. Rather than lingering in a cell, rough justice was self-administered in the Yarra Ranges.

Yet it would be a profound mistake if Bailey were simply confined to the scrap-heap of society's collective short-term memory. Indeed, for the sake of his victim and his wife and child, Bailey's violent end should not be ignored.

INSTEAD, it should be examined in fine detail to determine what -- if anything -- could have been done to prevent the two deaths.

The coroner will have his say, but police, the State Government and the health industry should be asking whether a more detailed investigation -- such as a royal commission -- should be held into not only Bailey but the wider issue of dealing with mentally ill Victorians.

Any investigation should go beyond the simple argument of whether Sen-Constable Clarke should have been operating alone. That answer is simple: in an ideal world, no.

Yet for the deaths to have real long-term impact, authorities would be well advised to open up mental health services statewide to a meaningful inquiry.

Mental health is, of course, a subject with which governments and society are slowly coming to grips.

The stigma of suffering from depression and related ailments will surely last to some degree for many years, but there is finally a growing consensus that heads in the sand don't equate to either good policy or compassion.

The Bracks Government deserves credit for its package of mental health reforms, announced last week.

But the hype that surrounded the social package needs to be seen in context. The $180 million injection into mental health services is over four years, and $55 million relates to capital works.

So the money to be spent on services and wages is limited to $124.8 million, or a shade over $31 million each year.

Which is, in reality, a piddling amount in the bigger picture, dwarfed by land tax relief and other such initiatives.

It means that, in effect, the health system will continue to be burdened by insufficient mental health resources, though there appears to be an acceptance by the Government that major aspects of critical care are failing.

Bailey's parents complained at the weekend that they had stood in the emergency department of a suburban hospital in 2002 crying out for help. They were, it seems, well and truly in the wrong place.

Yet for all his hurdles, Bailey had a lot more support than many others who find themselves in the same position. He was loved by a family who may not have understood their son but certainly threw their arms around him.

None of this is to diminish or excuse his actions as a killer. But for the wider good, Bailey -- and people like him -- deserve to have their plight and the resources available to them open to meaningful scrutiny. Few would suggest that the Cain and Kirner governments' de-institutionalisation policy, which involved the shift from psychiatric hospital to community-based care, should be wound back.

But there is plenty of evidence on the streets to suggest that there remain insufficient resources for the mentally ill, who once might have been institutionalised and under constant care.

The biggest single impediment to serious reform on mental health is that those who need the help aren't always the most efficient advocates for change.

Where a pensioner waiting for a new hip is likely to open her mouth and complain, it's not quite the same for a pensioner in the midst of a crippling depression.

SOCIETY, no matter what many would like to think, still can't properly get its head around mental health problems.

Mark Bailey couldn't come to terms with his life and the consequences were powerfully tragic for the Clarke family as well as the Baileys.

Bailey, like Sen-Constable Clarke, is gone. Neither should be forgotten, even though one died in shame, the other a servant of the people.


Jarvis Walker     Arlec

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Featured Articles

The 'Forgotten People'

by Anna Malbon from the Progress Press October 22, 1996

WHEN nine-year-old "Tom" was asked to draw a picture of himself with his mother be drew her trying to strangle him.

Tom entered the world of adults too early. If he was ever immune to the complications and pain of life that adults try to shelter from children, he says he can't remember.

Bulletin Board

I had to struggle extra hard

Her doctors did not bother to enquire about my father and I.

They only listened to her stories ”

“ I grew up thinking - Nobody wanted to help. Nobody wanted to know.”

Hi, I had a mentally ill mother. She passed away last year. I literally grew up hanging around mental hospitals because my Mom's condition was a cycle that always ends in a mental hospital. When I was younger, there was a long period when I cried my eyes out every time I was separated from my mentally ill mother because she had to stay in a mental hospital. After I grew older, my Mom's mental illness became impossible for me to bear.

Literally, my Mom's mental illness ruined my life. I think. I had to struggle extra hard for everything because of my big handicap at home. There was no support at all from anyone other than my father. Nobody else wanted to know about it. My mother's own cousin even said to my father not to bring my Mom to their place. I grew up thinking - Nobody wanted to help. Nobody wanted to know. My mother's own sister has been complaining since 2000 and her last complain was on 5 July 2014. This particular aunt keeps complaining about the same thing. That she had to take my Mom for her weekly injections and complained that my father and I was not around to do it. Then, she goes on to say that she saw my Mom beat me up with a cane. When she said that, I asked my Aunt, you saw my Mom beat me up with a cane? She said yes and than, she walked away.

I feel very sore with this aunt. Number one, the period she was complaining about was when I was still schooling and my father's and my mental health had deteriorated so badly that we had to leave the state for our own sanity. Before joining my father, I had to live alone with my Mom and my baby sister for almost a year. My aunt who lived a few minutes drive away did nothing when my Mom beat me up every day for months until my father managed to cut the red tape to remove me. My body was full of bruises and I was terrified to go home after school. Nobody helped. Not the neighbours who can hear all my mom's shouting at me, nor my aunt, nor my grandparents, nor my school's teachers. Someone should had intervened for a 12+ little girl. No adult helped. My father was trying his best to get me away to stay with him. Nobody helped him.

On XXXXXXXXXXXX, my Mom's sister let slip she saw my Mom beat me with a cane. And yet she did nothing! My aunt even had the cheek to say that my Mom beat me up because I said I wanted to go live with my father. The way my aunt said it was like the beatings were wholly my fault. What is wrong with the picture? You have a 12+ girl being beaten up daily, you are an aunt who knows something is going on and did nothing. Yet for years later you complain about having to take your own blood sister for her injections. And, I do not think she did it for longer than my own experiences. Probably only a few times because my father and I had to travel frequently to see to my mother. Due to the cyclic nature of her illness.

I have been going with my father when he took my mother for her weekly injections as a little girl, knee high, ever since I can remember. My own aunt is so calculative. There was a nurse that visits my Mom to give her her injections. But, the problem is my Mom will not let the nurse into her house that is why the intervention is needed. I have lost count on the number of times I had to go with my Mom for her injections as a little girl.

Her doctors did not bother to enquire about my father and I. They only listened to her stories and full stop. I think my Mom's doctors are the most heartless people I have ever met in my life. Until today, I do not like anyone who officially practices psychology because those doctors etc... contributed to my life being ruined. That is how I feel. I have been scolded by my Mom's medical team and they even dumped my Mom on me after I just turn 18 and there was no other adult around. And, they knew the situation. I was terrified because my Mom was a very violent. My Mom has pitched me, beaten me up, she has biten me with her teeth, she has smashed my head against the table and threatened to beat me with a piece of hard wood. I experienced all these as a little girl at the tender age of 12+ I had to learn karate to protect myself from her violent ways. And, when my Mom was home, I would lock my room's door and place a chair against it. I was that terrified of her.

All our belongings can go missing because my Mom is good at that sort of thing. You never know what is what with my Mom. It is like having a criminal live under the same roof as you.

My aunt kept repeating to me that on my mother's death anniversary I will have go visit her cemetery. I live in a different state from where my mother's cemetery is located. And, my aunt knows that very well. However she repeated her question to me until I said yes. I hate being forced to do something against my will because I have been forced to do things against my will my whole life.

My life is in ruins because of my mother's mental illness and people like my aunt is perpetuating the troubles for me after my mother's death. When I was 12+, my mother's mother said to me that it is my father's job to take care of my mother. In other words, my father's job and mine. And, they never lifted a finger to help. Just helping a little, my aunt has been complaining about the same thing for more than a decade. Unbelievable. Shameful.

Even though my father and I lived in a different state from my mother, we had to travel up and down every weekend because that is demanded of my mother. Sometimes, we had to travel after school and upon our arrival, she won't let us in and we had to travel all the way back. And, my father will not let me sleep at home as it is a school day, I had to go to school. My education was very important to my father. My mother could not be bothered if I succeeded or not.

I have seen more than any of my Mom's relatives have seen with regards her mental illness but people whom I just met behave like I have no idea about my Mom like they are the authority on her behaviour and her illness. Goodness gracious.

Despite this huge handicap in my life I persevered with my studies. My Mom did not give me any moral or emotional support at all. In fact her mental illness cycle will peak just or during my important exams. In other words, I had to deal with my exams and on top of them a mentally ill mother. By my final year in university, I could not take the pressure of exams and a mentally ill mother's break downs anymore.

When I was in my teenage years and early adult years, I was suicidal. I had to call Befrienders a lot. Thank God for Befrienders.

Before XXXXXXXXXXdate, I do not wish my experience to be experienced by anyone else because it is torture. However, after feeling how hard hearted my aunt is. A so called holy person, a church goer, rich person who has successful kids and grand kids. And, she can talk like it is my fault that my Mom beat me up and she (my aunt) had to take her (her own sister) for her injections when I was a kid. I really wish that my aunt must reincarnate as my father (a few lifes) so that she can eat her own words. If my aunt reincarnates and is put in my father's shoes, she would really deserve it. Hope she learns compassion through it all.

Why can't the world give children of the mentally ill a break? I am so fed up with all this troubles that stem from my mother's sister's attitude towards my father and I. After all shel lives a great lives. Rich live. What is wrong with these people? I really cannot stand them. This is my story.

After I wrote the above - I am more myself now, and I totally forgive my aunt and everybody who did nothing to help my father and I. And, everybody else who were heartless towards my father and I. However, I still think that by living a few life times as my father (my aunt) - would do her some good. But, knowing her character, she might become a psychopath and pose a threat to humanity. My father is a very, very kind soul. My aunt is a hard hearted, prejudiced, narrow minded, one tracked mind person.

How I cope? Trying my best to keep out of their way, and hang out with positive people. There are plenty of great people out there. Nnaami is included :)


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