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Motion | Borderline Personality Disorder

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. T.A. Franks:

That this council—

1.Recognises that the first week of October each year has been declared Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Week; and

2.Acknowledges that the Australian Borderline Personality Disorder Foundation, through ongoing advocacy from Ms Janne McMahon OAM, Dr Martha Kent and Associate Professor Andrew Chanen, has been fundamental in promoting understanding of the disorder in the community and working towards better treatment options and quality of life for those affected by the disorder.

(Continued from 14 October 2015.)

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN ( 21:13 :03 ): This motion, in addition to recognising that the first week of October each year has been declared Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Week, also provides an opportunity to recognise the work of the Australian Borderline Personality Disorder Foundation and the professionals who have been active in promoting awareness in the community about the disorder.

The Australian Borderline Personality Disorder Foundation’s mission is to promote a positive culture to support the recovery journey of people with borderline personality disorder as well as their families and carers. The foundation also supports clinicians, healthcare personnel and researchers working in this field, and acknowledges everyone who works towards a better recognition of this disorder, which is often misunderstood. On a practical level, the foundation aims to support and promote services which:

provide high quality accessible, timely, responsible and appropriate services, treatment and care for people with BPD and their families and carers (this is something which has not been readily available in the past);

provide high quality and accessible education and support for families and carers of people with BPD;

provide high quality appropriate education for clinicians and front-line workers providing treatment and care for people with BPD and their carers and families;

promote a positive culture for sufferers and create an environment of hope and optimism; and

importantly, provide high quality scientific research about all aspects of borderline personality disorder.

Ms Janne McMahon has worked tirelessly to promote increased awareness and acceptance within our South Australian community of borderline personality disorder. I note that she was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2008 for service to the community in the area of mental health advocacy, particularly for private mental health consumers and carers.

Senior psychiatrist Dr Martha Kent was a lead author on two reports for the federal and South Australian governments on how to deal with borderline personality disorder patients. Dr Kent’s reports highlighted major gaps in service delivery and found that patients are often treated poorly or not taken seriously by hospital staff. She has publicly exposed how sufferers are harming themselves and dying as a result. Her reports recommend setting up targeted services in each state and more training for front-line staff.

Professor Andrew Chanen is the Director of Clinical Services at Orygen Youth Health clinical program in Melbourne and Deputy Research Director at Orygen Youth Health Research Centre and Centre for Youth Mental Health at the University of Melbourne. Andrew’s research, clinical and training interests lie in the prevention and early intervention for severe mental disorders, principally personality disorders. He developed and directs the award-winning Helping Young People Early program, a clinical research and training program that is focused on understanding, preventing and treating severe personality disorder in young people.

He has publicly highlighted how decades of research have established that borderline personality disorder is a valid diagnosis and that it responds to treatment, but that progress towards genuine service reform to meet the needs of sufferers has been slow and piecemeal. He has advocated for the genuine need to reform the services provided to sufferers and has called for a coordinated health system response to the disorder.

I acknowledge that the Hon. Kelly Vincent, the Hon. Stephen Wade and the Hon. Tammy Franks have renewed calls for a dedicated specialist service for borderline personality disorder as part of their commitment to borderline personality disorder awareness. They have done so because this is a diagnosis that affects somewhere between 17,000 and 68,000 Australians and they recognise that there are major gaps in the service provision throughout our state. This is particularly in rural and remote settings, but sadly also in the metropolitan area.

When the Hon. Tammy Franks introduced and spoke on this motion, she paid tribute to the lives lost: nine deaths at least in the last 36 months that we know of as a result of this condition. I also pay tribute to those sufferers who have sadly passed away and acknowledge the pain and suffering that would still be felt by their family members and friends who they left behind. We need to ensure that those people who identify with this disorder are treated with respect and compassion and, importantly, that they are able to access appropriate treatment. My hope is that there are no more lives lost to this disorder. I commend the Hon. Tammy Franks for introducing this motion and her dedication to this cause. I encourage other members of the chamber to support this motion.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. G.A. Kandelaars.

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