Social Justice & Mental Illness
Truth and the verdict of peace are you to adjudicate in your gates.
Zachariah 8:16
Social Justice & Psychological Disorders
By three things does the world endure - by Truth, Justice and Peace.
Rabbi Shimon Ben Gamliel
Perkei Avot 1:18


Reference has been made to the Social Justice Committee on this Wings of Care Website. This is a Committee set up by the JCCV (Jewish Community Council of Victoria) of which Wings of Care is a founding member. The purpose of the committee is to examine Social Justice issues in our community, consider our attitude to them by drafting policies and where necessary suggest and implement changes to the status quo.

Wings of Care's work lies in two different areas in this Committee: Social Justice for Jewish people with psychological disorders and Social Justice for Jewish people with mental illness.

Mental health and the conditions of people who have a mental illness in our Community are of considerable concern to Wings of Care and the Jewish Mental Health Network. We want to improve the quality and scope of services that we as a community offer and increase awareness of the plight of sufferers and their carers whether it is in the area of mental illness or emotional distress.

There are serious social justice issues that need attention in this field, for example, the lack of availability of supported accommodation for those Jewish people living in isolation in the community. Often these people have lost touch with their Jewish identity through a variety of circumstances and would benefit enormously by community support. There may be clients who will only respond to living in a Jewish environment. Where would they go?

Those suffering emotional distress or a mental illness that are incarcerated have the added worry of not knowing how they can ever possibly be rehabilitated back into the community. They are full of despair and have very little hope for the future. Social Justice demands that these people be given a second chance in life. They have Jewish souls and they have gone astray. They need our support and we need to support organizations such as Jewish Chaplaincy, which help them with their wonderful acts of kindness.

Jewish Taskforce against Family Violence has done much to highlight the plight of sufferers of domestic violence. As a social justice issue still more needs to be done to assist people who are in this position. Overnight emergency accommodation that is in-house, free counselling where necessary, and a support group, are possible examples to look at. We need to support this organization that represents the victims and perpetrators.

Post Natal Depression is an issue that is a concern to us in our community and we might examine this on a forum.

Issues such as Drug and Alcohol Abuse need to be investigated further and so too ways of helping combat the problem and deal with the issues of Dual Diagnosis where mental illness can be agitated through the abuse of Drugs and Alcohol. We have examined the issue of Poverty with a community forum and are following up projects and issues relating to this to help change attitudes and conditions that some people live in.

Social Justice and mental illness represents Institutional support such as Legal aid-referrals, Forensic Care-rehabilitation. Research that is evidence based, statistics, trials and demographics are all useful and necessary items to help deal with people's issues.

Jewish Chaplaincy and the Taskforce against Domestic Violence are both members that belong to the Jewish Mental Health Network.

Information to Rabbis is circulated to our Synagogues at the time of World Mental Health Day and Mental Health Week each year so that Rabbis can talk about these topics at the appropriate times from the pulpit and increase our community's awareness of these important issues.


Current SJ Wings of Care Projects:

A School children's project is currently underway to help improve children's' experiences in school and help make them ready for the community as citizens. This is being designed to deal with topics such as bullying, social integration and Jewish continuity.

The issue of Poverty and Mental Illness has been investigated in a discussion paper written by Dr Barie Forbes. Wings of Care's Community Chest was started because of the recommendation suggested in this paper.

A community support program was started recently, which addresses the issues of poverty and social isolation. Wings of Care is training 'community workers' representatives from all the Synagogues in Victoria to visit those in need and help them with resource information and alert them to the services which are relevant to their needs that their Synagogue may be providing.

Community Support Program Mind Map

A project we are looking at involves Animal Assisted therapy whereby prisoners may be directed to train dogs for people with mental illness or other special needs.


Other valuable resources created by our Committee are:

Rabbi Apple provided us with 10 points of tolerance.

A Terms of Reference has been created and amended by our Committee.

Our anti-Poverty Forum provided us with a report and a discussion paper also written by Tony Fell.

We are now linked up to the JCCV website.