By Darren Stones
On Friday 10 August, 2012, I had a 20-minute meeting with my local federal member of parliament. It's the first time I've taken the step to arrange a face-to-face meeting with a politician to advocate for people experiencing mental ill health.
Upon my written request via email to Kelvin Thomson's office in Munro Street, Coburg, on Monday 6 August, a staffer from Kelvin's office quickly arranged a meeting on Tuesday 7 August for us to meet on the following Friday. The topic of our meeting was to discuss the Better Access scheme.
During the discussion I tried to impress on Kelvin the benefits of the Better Access scheme and how it does help people in regard to their mental health. The scheme is currently going through a transition phase whereby Medicare-funded sessions are being cut from 18 per calendar year to only 10. This is a move initiated by the current Labor Government in which Kelvin is part of.
In meeting Kelvin, I informed him that there are many people living in Australia who are not well enough to visit their local MPs to advocate because of their lived experience of mental ill health.
I left a package of written material for Kelvin to look through and left the meeting feeling thankful he had given me time to express my thoughts and listen to his views. I did the best I could to impress on him how beneficial the Better Access scheme had been for me during 2009-2011 when I relied on it to improve my health.
All I can do is my best to try and convince politicians of the need for reasonable treatment options for our people. A face-to-face meeting is a big step to take, but one that I feel is now necessary.