Letters to the editor

Time to face facts

I am writing from the not-for-profit organisation the Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia.

In particular I’m wanting readers to be aware that far too many people who have a serious mental illness are not getting treatment and we need that to change.

It’s estimated fewer than 50 per cent of Australians who have a serious mental illness get treatment.  Obviously this is alarming.

We urge people who may have mental health issues to reach out and get the help they need. There is significant support out there from GPs, specialists and – most importantly – community mental health services.

We have a free phone number people can call from anywhere in Australia to get guidance and just call 1800 985 944 if you need some advice on where best to go.  Readers can also go to MiNetworks.org.au.

Our latest campaign highlights that 230,000 people in Australia are estimated to have schizophrenia. When you include families helping these people, about one million people are impacted. 

It is utterly shameful that the average life expectancy of someone with schizophrenia in this country is now just 54.  We have to do so much more to support people with schizophrenia.  People with schizophrenia can and do recover.

We also highlight that it’s time there was much more government funding for mental health services in all areas of Australia. Mental health services are grossly inadequate and this needs to change.

- T. Stevenson, Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia

Do not be cold this winter

The rising cost of living and its impact on disadvantaged and marginalised Queenslanders is never more evident than during the winter months.

Last financial year alone St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland (Vinnies) members provided more than $4.6 million worth of food in the form of vouchers or parcels.

Each year thousands of Queenslanders turn to Vinnies for assistance to make it through the coldest months of the year.

Our services are increasingly in demand as the costs of essential goods and services including health, education and utilities, increase faster than wages for low income earners.

The high costs of living are impacting low income families and individuals the hardest and can cause profound distress.

When the people we assist seek our help they routinely report feeling they have failed and are ashamed and embarrassed by being unable to provide for their children or for having to seek help from charities to keep the lights on or pay the rent.

Vinnies will always be there to help people in need when they need us. With our support their dignity and self-confidence is restored, but we need your help to continue.

The Winter Appeal is a fundraising effort which allows us to provide Queenslanders with food, warmth and shelter each year.

- J. Forrest, state president, Vinnies

IS HELL REAL?

On March 29, Italian newspaper, La Republica, reported Pope Francis allegedly saying about “bad souls” after death: "They are not punished. Those who repent obtain the forgiveness of God and enter the rank of souls who contemplate him…. Those who do not repent, and cannot therefore be forgiven, disappear.”

He supposedly also said hell does not exist. So, we’re free to choose to accept God’s love and to enjoy him forever in heaven. However, that’s not a free choice unless we are also free to reject God and wind up in hell.

The reality of that choice is what makes us real. Otherwise we’d be pretty much robots. In that sense the possibility of hell is God’s greatest gift to us. Jesus Christ himself warned repeatedly that hell does exist.

- A. Jago, Nichols Point