I have received a response from Sally Neighbour, Executive Producer, Four Corners in response to my complaint to the airing of the 4 Corners program Don’t Judge me on the 24 August.
I will be reading and reflecting on the response from Sally, tomorrow before I will be sending her a further response.
Dear Douglas Holmes O.A.M
This email provides a copy of your comments recently submitted to the ABC via the online email form located on this webpage :
ABC Audience & Consumer Affairs
**IMPORTANT NOTE: Please do not reply to this message. You are welcome to submit any further comments you may have using the form available here – http://abc.net.au/contact **
First name: Douglas
Surname: Holmes O.A.M
Response Required: Yes
Program: Four Corners
Program Date: 2020-08-24
ABC Service\Network: ABC1
ABC Recipient: Audience & Consumer Affairs
Subject: Don’t Judge me Four Corners eposide 24 August
Your Comments: Hi1
I would like to add my concerns about how the Four Corners program has added to the distress of many in the Mental Health across Australia. This website will give you more background on the concerns https://pleasedont.com.au/
I have been involved with THE MENTAL HEALTH SERVICE AWARDS OF AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND for many years, Professor Fiona Stanley AC is the 2020 Awards Ambassador https://www.themhs.org/the-awards/ and I believe on the board of the ABC
I know the issues are important to many in the Mental Health community and its about how you pitched the story, I would emcourage you to think about doing a follow up story on the topic and look at some of the issues that are allowing these issues to happen. In NSW we have had over 380 Mental Health consumers end up in the Forencis system after beeing seen by the Community MH Teams and not be able to get the HELP that people are seeking help, an example how the Waterlow’s treatment https://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-02-20/psychiatrists-were-torn-over-waterlow27s-treatment/4528988
Back in 2008 Andrew Denton and Sonya Pemberton one of Australia’s leading documentary writers, directors and executive producers, created an eposide called Angels and Demons won a TheMHS Achievement Award https://www.themhs.org/resource/angels-and-demons-enough-rope-with-andrew-denton-series-6/
I am happy to be contacted if you would like to discuss any of the issues I have raised
Douglas Holmes O.A.M.
0403 386 017
Ps: The eposide of Don’t Judge Us would struggle to win a TheMHS Achievement Award in it’s current form
Thank you for your email to the ABC regarding the recent Four Corners program ‘Please Don’t Judge’. I apologise for the delay in responding to you.
The aim of the program was to highlight the severe failings in Australia’s treatment of people with mental illness, and the tragic consequences these can have. We hoped the story would lead to increased public focus on and debate about these serious issues, which are of major public interest.
I am sorry that some viewers found the program distressing, and felt that it perpetuated the stigmatisation of people with experience of mental ill health. This was certainly not our intention.
The four cases we focused on involved individuals who were unable to get the treatment they needed and subsequently committed acts of violence which had devastating impacts for them, their families and others. Due to legal and/or privacy reasons, we were unable to interview the individuals involved. This was why we instead interviewed their families and carers. We believe that their stories were incredibly powerful, but acknowledge that they do not speak for people with experience of mental illness. We also acknowledge that cases such as these are rare, and that people with mental illness are far more likely to be the victims that the perpetrators of violent crime.
I understand some viewers found some of the language used in the interviews distressing. We believed it was important to let these people tell their stories in their own voices, without censoring them. However I am now more clearly aware of the negative impacts this language can have, and will take great care around this in future.
I would like to assure you that the ABC and Four Corners are committed to the Mindframe guidelines on reporting around mental illness, and to giving voice to the many Australians with lived experience of mental ill health.
Thanks again for taking the time to write.
Executive Producer, Four Corners