Mr KNOWLES (Macquarie Fields—Minister for Health) [3.31 p.m.]: This week the Director of the New South Wales Centre for Mental Health, Professor Beverley Raphael, was awarded another distinction. The University of Newcastle presented her with an honorary Doctorate of Psychiatry. This latest accolade for Beverley is evidence of the tremendous regard in which she is held by her professional and academic colleagues in Australia and internationally. The people of New South Wales are blessed to have a scholar of Professor Raphael's prodigious capacities. She is one of the leading psychiatric experts in the world today. She is also a great humanitarian who has devoted her life to easing the suffering caused by mental illness.
Beverley is a towering figure who, in my view, ranks with Fred Hollows and Victor Chang as heroic contributors to caring for cruelly afflicted people and alleviating their suffering. Beverley is an Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry with the University of Queensland and holds professorial appointments at the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales and the University of Newcastle. She is a fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, a fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia and a fellow of the American College of Psychiatrists.
Professor Raphael was appointed as Director of the Centre for Mental Health in January 1996. She has worked on the world stage from this position with the production of a mental health training manual for the 2000 Olympic Games to equip mental health workers to deal with disasters or terrorism. The manual was adopted and used in America following the events of September 11. She has been a consultant to the World Health Organisation and an invited consultant to the American Government for the National Institute of Mental Health and the American Department of Defence on mental health responses to mass violence.
Throughout her career Beverley Raphael has worked to improve the understanding and care of people with mental health illnesses. She has contributed extensively to mental health research in bereavement, psychological trauma, disasters, child and adolescent mental health, HIV-AIDS, depression, domestic violence and mental health aspects of physical illnesses, including respiratory disease, cancer and stroke. She entered psychiatry in 1964 after five years in general practice. She was the foundation Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Newcastle from 1978 to 1986. She then became the Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Mental Health Services at the Royal Brisbane Hospital in Queensland.
Professor Raphael was awarded an AM in 1984 and a top 10 Australian achievers Australia Day award for her work in 1994. She has delivered numerous orations and keynote addresses to distinguished national and international groups. She has more than 200 scientific publications and has published two books and edited three others. I am sure I speak for the entire community and the Parliament in offering my heartfelt congratulations to Professor Raphael on behalf of the New South Wales Government and all the people of this State.
Mrs SKINNER (North Shore) [3.34 p.m.]: I join with the Minister in congratulating Professor Beverley Raphael on receiving an honorary doctorate from the University of Newcastle. I contacted Professor Raphael in relation to a mental health matter in my electorate; she was most helpful, and I am extremely grateful for that. Professor Raphael has a great deal of academic credibility and a great skill in the field of psychiatry. The only thing I would ask of Professor Raphael is that she co-operate fully with the Legislative Council inquiry into mental health, because to date the material and data provided by her in her capacity as the Director of the Centre for Mental Health has been wanting.
That is probably a reflection of the Government's failure to keep adequate records relating to the shortage of mental health services in this State, and particularly the tremendous shortfall in bed numbers, including non-acute beds for people with psychiatric illnesses. It is probably a reflection also of the Government's failure to provide sufficient resources to meet desperate needs in the community for a range of mental health services in psychiatric hospitals, psychiatric wards, general hospitals and the community sector.
A person of the stature and standing of Professor Raphael would find it difficult not to provide information to such an important committee so that members of this Parliament are able to make some serious and considered recommendations about the way ahead. That would mean that we would no longer hear heartbreaking stories about patients and their families not being able to access treatment, and about mental health patients who are admitted to hospital and then discharged in the middle of the night, sometimes many kilometres from home, without any reference to a family member or support person and usually without the proper support and community-based mental health care they need to survive in the community.
The Coalition congratulates Professor Raphael on her academic achievements. On a personal level, I thank Professor Raphael for her assistance in relation to the constituent matter relating to mental health. Shame on the Government for not providing Professor Raphael with resources to enable her to provide services for those who so desperately need them in New South Wales. I hope Professor Raphael has better luck in being allowed to provide such information to the committee in the future.