DON'T GIVE UP...
Treatment Denied-Australia isn't only about being denied treatment for a substance issue or addiction, it's also about helping people who have been left behind - locked out of employment or housing. We're interested in what we like to call ethical lobbying and making a representation on your behalf to Government. Here's a list of things we are doing at the moment.
1) Helping people find the right medical treatment
2) Ethical lobbying. We will write to State and federal politicians on your behalf if you feel that you have been mistreated due to a substance issue. We need to live in a caring society where people are given a another chance at having a good life. Too many of us are left out of society just because we have made a mistake by using a substance.
3) Compiling lists of safe and understanding medical clinics and community pharmacies.
4) Making a collection of your stories about being left behind.
5) Connecting with other services that are willing to work with us.
6) Consulting with medical professionals about lobbying for a minister for substance use. We have ministers for mental health, so why not substance use?
7) Trying to educate governments on just how serious dangerous substance use, and addiction is. Overdose is the second-leading cause of death for Australians aged 30-39 and exceeds that of the road toll, yet governments continue to ruin people's lives by giving them a criminal record or imprisoning them.
ONE AUSTRALIAN DIES OF AN OVERDOSE EVERY FOUR HOURS, BUT WE BELIEVE THE RATE TO BE HIGHER THAN THAT BECAUSE NOT EVERY OVERDOSE IS RECORDED AS AN OVERDOSE.
8) Everything we do, we do it for free. No one gets paid. Soon, we are going to have to raise some money to run our operations and campaigns, but no one will be paid a wage, salary, or contract for the services that we provide.
Steven Bailey grew up in the Highlands of Victoria where his parents raised him off the grid to live a healthy life with few creature comforts or television while his parents built a rock house made of rocks and recycled materials. Instead of luxuries, he enjoyed adventures riding his motorbike with friends and found his first love - music. He composed the music for the musical The Web, written by his mentor Rix Wright at the age of 14. At the age of 16, he left home for Canberra to live in a student share house where his love for the performing arts and philosophy was nurtured by Narrabundah College and the Australian National University’s School of Music where he was the recipient of the Type Two and Group of Eight Scholarships.
Throughout Steven’s 20s, he enjoyed working in the performing arts as a composer, theatre maker, and writer. From conducting opera in Hong Kong to writing musicals in rural Australia, the professional productions were exhilarating, but he found greater meaning working with amateur ensembles and connecting with communities through outreach and engagement programmes. Steven has toured, directed, and stage managed countless theatrical productions throughout Australia, including Narrabundah College's The Hawk Theatre, Canberra's the Street Theatre, Griffith Regional Theatre, and many more. He later worked as a political reporter and opinion writer for the RiotACT, and has written on many topics close to his heart in other publications.
Always up for an adventure, one day Steven found himself working for one of Australia’s most eccentric socialists Bob Katter. In his capacity as a political operative, Steven has made national headlines on numerous occasions for standing up for what he believes in - his support for marriage equality (while working with Katter and with Katter’s blessing), giving Tony Abbott a public dressing down in front of Canberra's media, and his advocacy for mental health - to name a few.
In 2013, Steven negotiated a preference deal between Bob Brown (for the Greens) and Bob Katter. He is now writing a book on his adventures with Katter titled Bob’s Your Uncle. After a political baptism by fire with the mad hatter, he found a political home by becoming the first and only Secretary and lead candidate of the Australian Sex Party ACT branch. After campaigning on drug law reform in federal and Territory elections, Steven missed out on winning a seat in the 2016 ACT election by a whisker. It is gratifying to now see much of the drug law reform policies so hard fought for in 2016 now become legislative realities years later, but we don't fight for such things for personal gratification; we fight for them as a matter of human dignity, and life and death for many Australians. There is still so much work to be done - in the ACT and other jurisdictions.
After dedicating his life to political activism for a number of years, Steven experienced a mental breakdown due to a coalescence of personal tragedies while suffering from debilitating pain due to a motorcycle accident.
He used his public profile to advocate for what he sees as a mental health epidemic in Australia. He managed to keep working as a political strategist and campaigner, but when the pain in his heart became worse than the pain in his neck, he developed a prescription opioid use disorder. Denied appropriate treatment in the ACT and NSW, and instead being scheduled for electroconvulsive therapy, he moved to Victoria where he was properly diagnosed and properly treated.
Only this year, has he become public about his battle with prescription opioids. He is adamant that had he not met his current GP and pharmacist, he would not be alive today to tell his story, and fight against the stigma, and for the human dignity that we all deserve regardless of what is put into our bodies - by choice or by the misguided practices of some medical professionals. Steven recently got engaged to the love of his life Aimee Sutanto. As he has spent much of his political life learning and campaigning for drug law reform, he brings a unique set of skills and experience to the conversation of prescription medication use disorders, and has decided to dedicate a great portion of his life to working as an advocate and connecting with Community.
Although Steven is disappointed in the many organisations that merely profess the invaluable contribution that can be made by people with a lived experience, he is impressed and thankful for some of the great work being done by harm reduction NGOs in his new home of Melbourne (Canberra will always be a second home for Steven). He believes that all Australian governments should have a minister dedicated to portfolios for mental health as well as substance use health. In Steven’s words:
"The digital age so rapidly came upon us and we are discovering that many, so called, 'social' technologies are not connecting us with one another as much as they are disconnecting and misinforming us. For many, our sense of belonging is waning. As our governments spend billions in all the wrong places (such as law enforcement instead of healthcare), many of us are left to discover, and rediscover, our sense of belonging and our own reasons to keep on living. Our approach to mental illness and substance use disorders can't just be focused on giving people another chance at life. We must find ways to give people another chance at a good life.”