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Living in hell at subsidised rates

An ACIJ Special Investigation

This week Crikey  and Reportage Online (opens an external site) are publishing a 5-part special investigation by the ACIJ of the appalling conditions suffered by people with mental illness in public housing in the western suburbs of Sydney.

In the run-up to the NSW state election, aspiring Premier Barry O'Farrell promised he'd appoint a Mental Health Commissioner, who would be 'a champion for mental health within government'.

The Commissioner will not start work until July 2012. But public housing tenants with mental illness in western Sydney could well use such a champion right now.

A major investigation by the ACIJ has found deep-rooted and systemic neglect by Housing NSW of some of its most vulnerable tenants. The ACIJ has interviewed a wide range of people with mental illness living in public housing, the health professionals who care for them, and the social workers, church welfare agencies and tenants groups who advocate on their behalf. A clear and consistent picture emerges from their first-hand accounts. People with mental illness regularly experience harassment, victimization and bullying by neighbours. Some have received death threats. Yet their pleas for help go unheeded by the authorities.

While the O'Farrell government's new Mental Health Taskforce conducts yet another review of services for the mentally ill, desperate people are falling through the cracks of a health and housing bureaucracy in chronic gridlock.

You can read individual stories on the Crikey website:

Follow the series as it continues: Mental Health and Housing: A Crikey Series (opens an external site).

The series is also published in full on Reportage Online (opens an external site).

All enquiries to Tom Morton, Director, ACIJ: Email: Tom.Morton@uts.edu.au