Changes to the mental health act in NSW in 2007 were meant to see less patients transported in the back of police cars and paddy wagons, however police are still routinely called upon to do this job. It is a particular problem in regional areas where there is often a shortage of mental health professionals and ambulance services and police are the only option.
Joanne Bradbury is a postdoctoral fellow at Southern Cross University in Lismore and she is interviewing patients, police, health professionals and paramedics who have been effected by this issue in some way. Gary Shallala-Hudson was one person she interviewed. He was transported in a police van back in 2010 and says the experience of having police turn up at his door was publically humiliating. He also feels that police should be better trained to deal with mental health patients.
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This article first appeared on ‘ABC’ on 14 April 2014