The name of On Track Community Programs is now tarnished in the mental health industry. Few have positive words for their management although the dedication of staff are highly praised. When Michael was alive, he constantly provided information regarding the failures of the management to lead. He relayed how he feared for his life due to the lack of safety procedures in place. At that time, I made a promise to him that when he left the organisation, I would publicise his concerns. Today, the distaste for the organisation is so acute in the mental health sector that rumours abound regarding attempts to divert funding to the organisation or to have the organisation abolished altogether.
After Michael was murdered and till today, no family member has received an apology from the management of On Track Community Programs for our loss. It is not helped that the CEO labelled me as “the enemy” for seeking justice to clear Michael’s name of the rumours that were viciously spread. Michael’s immediate work colleagues on the other hand were more than supportive. The eye opener regarding all that was wrong with the organisation came in the multiple emails and calls from both current and past staff with allegations of bullying, unsafe practices, funding mismanagement, nepotism and a host of other misdeeds. What I had been made aware of by Michael was but the tip of the ice-berg and simply had no idea of the true state of the organisation. Many of the allegations come from persons that have worked closely with the CEO and have a first-hand experience of how the organisation is run. The related stories and reading were simply jaw dropping. Many staff had the genuine fear that they too would be victims of those whom they cared for and as evidence suggests, attacks and murders continue to occur in the mental health sector to this day.
The successful prosecution of On Track Community Programs by WorkCover NSW is not only welcome news to myself and other family members but also and in particular his work colleagues, those in the mental health industry and by members in the greater community who knew and respected Michael as an individual.
It is hoped that government funding bodies take note of the judgement handed down by the Industrial Court against On Track Community Programs and ensure that highly sought after but limited funds are distributed in a manner that maximises the benefits to those most vulnerable in our society and not the select few that posses an unnatural desire for adulation. It is also hoped that the judgement will be adopted by managers in the mental health industry to provide a safer work environment to those individuals who dedicate their lives to improving the lives of those who are less fortunate. In that light, it is hoped that Michael’s passing will not be in vain.