‘John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library Anniversary Lecture, Perth‘, Beyond Blue, 28 June 2017
Former prime minister, now chairperson of a mental health organisation, Beyond Blue, speaking about another former prime minister who had mental health issues.
Curtin’s determination never wilted despite the highs and lows, his successes and failures, his journey along the continuum of his own mental health. Millions of Australians who are today living with mental health conditions would appreciate how hard that must have been.
The more we return to and re-examine Curtin’s life the greater his contribution appears, not just as a war-time leader and social reformer, but now – at last publicly and in a very modern way – as a disruptor, a mental health militant, if you will, even if he was unwilling to share that aspect of his personal story while he lived …
Curtin’s unwillingness to speak openly about his health problems, and to seek necessary help, is a tragic example of the very real stigma that remains attached to the issue of mental health even today, particularly for men.
Gillard summarises Curtin’s career and also touches on the depression suffered by Churchill. She goes on to discuss the importance of frankness about mental illness (particularly illness suffered by men) and to outline the work of Beyond Blue in this field. She also looks at the concept of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.