Health centre under fire

June O’Connor Centre member Susanne James has criticised the centre’s new assessment methods. Picture: Louise White www.communitypix.com.au d413550
June O’Connor Centre member Susanne James has criticised the centre’s new assessment methods. Picture: Louise White www.communitypix.com.au d413550

Ms James lodged complaints with Mental Health Minister Helen Morton and Mental Health Commissioner Tim Marney, about the new assessment, operation and behaviour of staff at the Baralda Court Centre.

Last month the commission all but dismissed the complaints, which has left Ms James questioning the review systems in place for mental health centres in WA.

Mr Marney told The Courier the issues raised by Ms James were reviewed but the commission ‘found that the issues were matters of operation, constitution and delivery of services to members’.

Mr Marney said JOC had dealt with the complaints appropriately.

June O’Connor, which formed in the 1980s and operates several centres around the metropolitan area, offers a number of programs for people suffering from mental health issues.

The Courier contacted JOC but a spokeswoman said it would be inappropriate to comment on the matter as it was handled by the Commission.

Ms James said many members had felt isolated and had left the centre since the new assessment came into effect last year.

‘The issues for me started with the intrusive assessment process,’ she said.

Ms James said the assessment included personal questions about members’ sexuality, upbringing, education, housing and financial situation.

‘We were initially told it was voluntary but it soon became compulsory for anyone who wanted to keep visiting the centre,’ Ms James said.

‘It definitely deterred people from going there… the great thing about the centre was it offered a social place for people to go that was not clinical.’

‘Most of the people I know who left will not return as they feel insulted and demeaned,’

Ms James said she understood the assessment was there to help secure funding for the centre but said the line of questioning was inappropriate.

‘There are few places for people with mental illness in Rockingham to find these kinds of programs,’ she said.

‘If you are trying to engage someone with a mental illness they are doing all the wrong things.’

Ms James said members had to be referred to the centre by a GP, psychologist or psychiatrist but when she questioned the staff’s qualifications, she was shunned.