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Mental health week, Lake Alice compensation

8 October 2001 Media Statement

Mental health week, Lake Alice compensation


It is our responsible, as a civilised society, to provide support to those with mental illness, after all they are our family and whanau members, from our communities, our hapu and iwi, says Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia.

"It is Mental Health Awareness Week this week and this year's theme is 'Mental Health and Work'. The stigma and confusion those living with mental illness must overcome while trying to find employment, is a battle every day.

"The stigmatisation and confusion about mental illness, by the majority, must be combated with information and understanding. It is especially pertinent for those with mental illness who are seeking employment and those who can offer employment opportunities. By discussing issues people are concerned with, fear and ignorance often melts away.

"The Government officially apologised and compensated a group of 95 former patients of Child and Adolescent Unit at Lake Alice Hospital for the unacceptable treatment they received at the hospital between 1972 and 1977.

"I urge those who have not yet come forward, to do so. The Government has assigned David Collins QC as a Crown-appointed lawyer to handle these former patients' claims who have yet to come forward, and retired High Court Judge Sir Rodney Gallen, to continue to hear the new claims of those who come forward.

"Those who were not part of the original settlement process need to contact the Ministry of Health in Wellington in the first instance. Their claims would be assessed, and details sent to the Crown Law Office, which had appointed Mr Collins to act on the behalf of individuals. Appropriate cases would be forwarded to Sir Rodney for consideration.

"Using the services of a Crown-funded lawyer, complainants would be saved from "the trouble and expense" of having to find a lawyer to represent them, and having to pay lawyers' fees", said Tariana Turia.

Former child patients at Lake Alice wishing to check their eligibility should look at an information sheet on the Ministry of Health's website www.moh.govt.nz/lakealice or call the coordinator on (04) 496 2311.

"While I do acknowledge a need for specialist care facilities, I will continue to promote the role and responsibility of the family to support and participate in the process of restoration and healing to family members. State institutions will never be able to offer the kind of support family and the wider family can provide.

"We must always scrutinise those state institutions who take in our family members in the name of care. We must learn the lessons that places such as Lake Alice has shown us and ensure that this does not happen to our families in the future", said Tariana Turia.


ENDS

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