In 2014 a small delegation of consumers, carers and clinicians met with the then Senator Penny Wright (Australian Greens) and Jan McLucas (Labor) with a request to formalise the week with the Australian Senate acknowledging the first week of October in each year as BPD Awareness Week. Here is the motion put to the Senate and which was adopted without amendment.
AUSTRALIAN PARLIAMENT: SENATE
WEDNESDAY, 1 OCTOBER, 2014
Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Week
Senator WRIGHT (South Australia) (15:43):
I, and also on behalf of Senator McLucas, move:
That the Senate —
(a) notes that:
(i) at any one point in time, between 1 and 4 per cent of the general population experiences Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD),
(ii) the disorder can be characterised by overwhelming emotions, relationship problems, impulsive and risk-taking behaviour and a fragile sense of self,
(iii) a history of trauma, abuse or deprivation is common among those with the disorder,
(iv) despite its prevalence, enormous public health costs and devastating toll on individuals and families, recovery from BPD is possible,
(v) BPD is a leading cause of suicide, with an estimated 10 per cent of individuals with this diagnosis taking their own lives, and
(vi) an increased understanding of BPD is required among health professionals and the general public by promoting education, research, funding, early detection, and effective treatments; and
(b) acknowledges that the Australian BPD Foundation, through ongoing advocacy from Ms Janne McMahon OAM, Dr Martha Kent and Professor Andrew Chanen, has declared the first week of October each year as Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Week with the aim of promoting understanding of the disorder in the community and working towards better treatment options and quality of life for those affected by the disorder.
Question agreed to.
This was a momentous occurrence. This has not been done before with any other specific illness or disease. It was also due to a great deal of lobbying, patience and some heartache along the way by the consumers, carers and clinicians.
And so for 1st October, 2014 we have a Parliamentary officially recognised BPD Awareness Week.
Janne McMahon and Dr Martha Kent, both from Adelaide, lobbied the South Australian upper house politicians to also put the same motion to Parliament on the 19th November, 2014. It is very pleasing that this was passed with all politicians other than the sitting Labor Government representatives agreeing to the motion. An additional point was also adopted and that was ‘and a statewide specialised borderline personality disorder service (unit) for South Australia be established’. Although now two years later, we are still waiting for action by the South Australian Government to establish the service.
This is the history of committed consumers, carers and clinicians who all speak with the one voice through BPD Awareness Week bringing greater awareness, positive messages and hope to all people affected by BPD.
BPD Awareness Week provides us with a time for reflection, acknowledgement and recognition. This is a time where we pay tribute to all who work for better recognition for those affected by BPD, who actively seek to reduce the prejudices and discrimination associated with this serious mental illness, and who strive to provide access to appropriate services offering choices, who foster research and training to normalise this mental illness.
Since then many organizations and groups concerned about the difficulties encountered by people experiencing BPD and their families/carers have engaged in activities designed to raise awareness about BPD and change the prevailing negative culture, stigma and discrimination into a more hopeful and optimistic one where it is widely known that recovery is possible and does happen with access to appropriate evidence based treatment and support.
In 2016 the bar was raised on BPD Awareness Week activities and a Collaboration Group was formed led by Guy Ellies and Anne Reeves from NEA BPD. A BPD Awareness Week website was developed and a social media and advocacy campaign was instigated. This has provided an excellent basis for the 2017 campaign which is coordinated by the Australian BPD Foundation. The Collaboration Group has been extended and some funding has been generously provided by Mind Australia Ltd, NEAMI National, Project Air Strategy for BPD NSW and Spectrum Personality Disorder Service for Victorians. This has enabled the Collaboration Group to implement a Public Relations and social media campaign and increase the number and range of awareness raising activities around Australia.
Janne McMahon OAM
Patron Australian BPD Foundation