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Video Transcript

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A call for support

NARRATOR: Keith Sutton was thrilled to have a son
he could share his love of the outdoors with.

We used to do a lot of things together.

We'd go camping. He was quite fond of fishing.

He was just a perfectly normal child up to the age of about 20.

Life changed when Keith's son Peter was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

I'm very grief-stricken about it all.

And it's a continual grief.

It's not like someone who's just died

and you grieve for a little while and you get over it.

But when they've got a serious mental illness,

the grief lasts on and on. Forever.

The Disability Discrimination Act doesn't provide for people with psychosocial disability.

It's been up to families like the Suttons to advocate for family members who cannot call for their rights themselves.

We're just off to Peter's, the place where Peter's staying at the moment.

We're just taking him some protein to supplement his diet
and just to see if we can persuade him to attend the GP.

Peter's had severe schizophrenia for the past 20 years.

His parents, Keith and Patricia, visit every day.

PATRICIA: As far as I'm concerned, it's the worst thing

that can happen for a parent.

We think he probably has symptoms where he hears voices and he experiences all of those
positive symptoms of schizophrenia, but he doesn't talk about them.

In his confused world, Peter sometimes fears those around him.

As often happens, Peter's taken off from the group home just as his parents arrive.

We're trying to engage with him to get him to visit the GP, but what happens is, what's just happened right now,as soon as he sees us turn up,
he just walks off.

His parents need to take him to the doctor for his diabetes.

No-one knows how Peter will be day to day.

Sort of gets to you after a while, mmm.

Patricia goes to see Peter's caregiver.

MAN: He gave Shaun a bit of grief.

He was going to stab him with his needle today.

-Oh, really?

-Stab him in the knee, yeah.

- I think there's probably gonna be a stay in hospital.

Hi, Ben. Give me a hug first?

Keith and Patricia's other son, Ben, also has schizophrenia.

Alright? Alright, then.

His experience of mental illness is different to his brother's.

KEITH: This place here, I bought so that my two sons could live here, independently of us.

Ben lives just down the street from his parents
and relies on them for meals, support and friendship.

I love my dad.

I do love my father.

(STAMMERS) Cut the camera.

He certainly has huge problems

socialising and having any relationships with anyone.

He's got no friends at all, Ben.

His only contact is with family.

He spends a lot of the time with us during the day, but at night-time, when he's alone and he's home, he calls us constantly.

We've had to switch our phone off quite frequently.

Because he's fearful of people just passing the house.

I think the longer that they go, Peter and Ben, without being involved in meaningful activities, the harder it is to engage them in those things.

Keith left his job to be more involved in the care of his sons.

OK? What do you reckon?

For Benny, fishing's probably one of his favourite pastimes.

Gives him a chance to relax, to focus on things,and it seems to clear his mind a bit.

He'd stay here forever fishing if I didn't take him home.

PATRICIA: His relationship with his dad is extremely important to him. I can't bear to think
of what Ben's life would be like if his dad wasn't around.

And his dad's pushing 70 now.

GRAEME INNES: Their parents' story is a wonderful story of support for their sons,
underlaced, though, with the huge fear for their parents, that... ..what will happen
to the two boys, Peter and Ben, when the parents are no longer able to provide that support?

They're caught between their dream of inclusion for their sons in the community,
which is not yet occurring, and the fear of what will happen to those two men as they get older.

I think it's fair to say that the Disability Discrimination Act has not brought the benefits for people with psychiatric
and intellectual disability that it has brought for people with physical and sensory disability.

And, in fact, that's so clear to me that I'm making a conscious effort as the commissioner
to refocus the work that we're doing on disability in the Australian Human Rights Commission
to try and address the particular needs of people with a psychiatric and intellectual disability.

Here's my famous cast.

Famous cast. This catches your fish.

How's that?