Father of drug addict: 'Thank God my son was arrested'
THE story of a Palmview mother who frequently travels to Melbourne to stand watch over her homeless, drug-addicted son shocked the nation.
But for one Sunshine Coast father, the tale hit a little too close to home.
The Buderim man, who wished to remain anonymous to protect his son, felt compelled to speak out after reading about Leanne Thompson's battle to get her son off drugs and the streets.
His said his son's downward spiral began in his 30s when he "fell in with the wrong crowd" while travelling the world for work.
From there he lost his job, home, health and mental well-being while his father helplessly watched on.
"It was cannabis to start with and then it just led on to other things - alcohol and drugs," he said.
"You have nothing you can do as a parent because they're their own person and they're off wherever they live and doing whatever they do."
Unmedicated bipolar and rampant substance abuse cumulated in the man being arrested, but his father credits this as the start of a healing process.
"He got caught, I think he spat at someone on a train and was arrested, thank God for that," he said.
"The police were very good, they saw there was something in this bloke that was better than what he was doing.
"The magistrate also spotted it thankfully and put him in the psychiatric wing at the Goulburn Hospital."
Now his son is in his mid-40s and slowly improving thanks to a dedicated team at the Ron Hemmings Unit in Kenmore Hospital, but he's been dealt another blow to his health - bowel cancer.
Having just finished his last bout of cancer treatment this week, his father said he looked forward his son moving to the Sunshine Coast in the coming months.
"He's never going to be the bright, sharp person he was," he said.
"Maybe if enough noise is made people would start paying attention, but mental health is on the back-seat."
The father, who described Mrs Thompson as a "brave woman", called on the government to stand up and pay attention to issues surrounding mental illness and drug abuse.
"I understand how she's feeling, she had to do something," he said.
"(We need) a meaningful response where it's not vote driven, it's about compassion.
"They have to make a start, they can't keep sweeping it away until the next big story when they can make a splash in the headlines."