Minister for Disability Services and Mental Health Curtis Pitt.
Minister for Disability Services and Mental Health Curtis Pitt. Chris Ison

'Jail no place' for mentally ill

MENTALLY ill people who commit crimes need appropriate diagnosis and support rather than being put behind bars, says Queensland's first Minister for Mental Health.

Speaking in Rockhampton yesterday, Mr Curtis Pitt said "looking at someone as a bad person rather than someone suffering a mental illness means they will not get the support they need."

He said throwing such a person in jail was unlikely to help them on the road to recovery, but appropriate treatment would.

Responding to questions about an incident in Rockhampton last week where a boy, 15, was allegedly randomly attacked on his way to school by a mentally ill person, Mr Pitt said: "You can't say a certain incident is forgivable.

"The appropriate response is not to lock everyone up behind bars, but treat the root cause."

Mr Pitt is keen to reduce the stigma associated with mental health illnesses.

"One in five Queenslanders will suffer from a mental illness in any given year and one in two will suffer in their lifetime," he said.

He said $2.6m was provided annually for community mental health services in Rockhampton.

"If we focus on the delivery of mental heath services to the community, it will save a lot of money by taking people out of the hospital setting (which falls into the health portfolio)," Mr Pitt said.

Mr Pitt, also the Minister for Disability Services, visited the site of five, one-bedroom, ground-floor units at an apartment building in Wandal which will be used by people with disabilities.



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