Covering Mental Illness Hard News Story

Protesters gathered outside Smith Day Care centre yesterday after Community Welfare divulged confidential medical information of one of the centre’s carers.

Carrying signs saying “Save our children”, the women said they were outraged to find out the owner’s daughter has schizophrenia.

Community Welfare informed the women of this, after it emerged the mother had planned to sign the business off to her daughter.

“It’s outrageous that we weren’t told about it,” one of the mothers said.

“She has been left alone with our kids for hours at a time,” another mother said.

But one mother defended the daughter and said she had “always been great with kids”.

The Director of Community Welfare said they take “any risk to children’s safety very seriously.”

“The department would never allow someone who was unsuitable to run a childcare centre,” she said.

“However, we don’t screen those who assist in family day care services, only those who actually apply to run them,” she said.

She said she was aware of the divulgence of confidential medical information.

“It is our policy to talk to people whenever there is a proposed change that might affect them,” she said.

Psychiatrist Dr Phillips said people with schizophrenia had only “a slight increased risk of violence.”

“You have to remember that schizophrenia can be treated by medication and community support. People with proper care are unlikely to harm themselves or others,” she said.

Joan Smith said the treatment of her daughter was “so cruel”.

“She’s been helping me in the day care for the last 10 years and everybody loves her. She hasn’t had any problems for years,” she said.

Readers who need support and information about mental health issues or who know someone needing help, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636

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