Response from ABC Sally Neighbour, Executive Producer, Four Corners


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 :

Yours sincerely,

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 – **


First name: Douglas

Surname: Holmes O.A.M


Location: NSW

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

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 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

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

I am happy to be contacted if you would like to discuss any of the issues I have raised



Douglas Holmes O.A.M.

Project Manager


0403 386 017

Ps: The eposide of Don’t Judge Us would struggle to win a TheMHS Achievement Award in it’s current form


From: Sally Neighbour
Sent: Wednesday, 2 September 2020 11:36 AM
Subject: Four Corners


Dear Douglas,

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.

Yours sincerely,


Sally Neighbour

Executive Producer, Four Corners

Published by Douglas Holmes

The contribution of Douglas Holmes to mental health services in Australia started in 1992 when he was diagnosed with Bipolar Affective Disorder. The TheMHS conference in Brisbane in 1996 inspired him to change mental health services so that other consumers could have a better recovery journey than he and his family. He became a member of the NSW Consumer Advisory Group Mental Health inc. (NSW CAG) from 1997 to 2000, and a founding member of the Australian Mental Health Consumer Network from 1997. He became the NSW CAG’s Executive Officer from 2000 till 2006. His goal was to embed consumer participation at the core of mental health services in NSW. Douglas was awarded the TheMHS Exceptional Achievement in 2014 the award states ‘The awards represents an acknowledgement of an exceptional contribution, the results of which will flow on to enhance the mental health and wellbeing of all.’ On Douglas Certificate TheMHS included the following words: ‘This award is for recognition of ‘unswerving dedication to the betterment of services to support consumer wellbeing; for extraordinary determination to ask questions and seek out answers; for outstanding expertise, freely given, with a “can do” attitude whether it be for national policy or a local art group.’ Since 2006 Douglas has worked at St Vincent’s Hospital as the Mental Health Consumer Participation Officer to put the policies he has worked on into action. In November 2016 Douglas retired from the O’Brien Centre at St Vincent’s Hospital after over 10 year service. He now heads up MH=worx.

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