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Apology Sought For Families

Media Release

3 September 1999

APOLOGY SOUGHT FOR FAMILIES

New Zealand First MPs Ron Mark and Gilbert Myles have called for an immediate end to the ill-conceived concept of community care for the mentally ill in the wake of the latest recent Auckland tragedy.

This policy of dumping psychiatric patients into the community has continued unabated for 13 years under both Labour and National.

"When Helen Clark was health spokesperson for Labour in 1990 she defended introducing the concept of community care for psychiatric patients - even though four young children had just been stabbed at an Auckland school by a former psychiatric patient.

"At the time Ms Clark tried to tell New Zealanders that these policy objectives were well thought out and responsible, and since then this line has also been taken by successive Health Ministers and Health Officials.

"However the proof is that the system does not work. This week in Auckland an innocent young man was bludgeoned to death with an axe by a former psychiatric patient who then took his own life.

"There must be accountability for this flawed policy. At the very least the current Minister of Health, Wyatt Creech, and the Minister responsible for introducing this policy owe these young men's families an apology.

The ideology behind total de-institutionalisation is flawed and has long since been proven in the United Kingdom and America to be so.

However, it should be remembered that the mentally ill are not criminals, and should not be placed in prisons.

Institutions do not have to be dungeons. Patients deserve the sanctity of such facilities and the public needs to have confidence that people who clearly should not be in the community are kept under secure conditions.

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