It has been a long time since I have posted. All though we have had many ups and downs,  overall no news is good news. My daughter has been relatively stable and apart from dealing with some horrific trauma memories (of which I will save for another post as I am still dealing with this on a personal level) she finally decided to embark on a holiday with her partner. Sadly the cruise she picked became an appalling episode of major unwarranted discrimination. This resulted in me forming a letter of complaint demanding an apology and asking them to review their future policy and procedure in relation to managing passengers with a mental health history.

On day 3 of her cruise they were in Common dining room and confronted by security staff who requested she accompany them to a room for questioning. She reports that she was questioned and supervised for over an hour where upon security and medical staff advised her that another passenger had expressed concern regarding her appearing distressed, and had noticed she had cuts on her arms.

My daughter advised them that at no time had she been distressed and that that yes she had old scars on her arms but no cuts.

They requested to take photos of her arms and proceeded to question her regarding her mental health history.

They also questioned her partner at this time regarding my daughter’s medical history and the stability and personal nature of their relationship

At all times my daughter remained calm and compliant even volunteering; above and beyond, my contact details to verify the information they were requesting.

It should be noted that my daughter has never had any history of any oppositional behaviour. This was once again confirmed by myself when staff phoned me in Australia.

The staff at this time advised my daughter and her partner that they had the power to remove them from the ship and if; after speaking with the Captain, this decision was made, they would need to arrange for their own transport home. At no time did they give any reason for why this may occur.

Following this interrogation they were advised they could remain on the ship but they would be watched.

Later that evening my daughter was advised; by staff at the bar, that a ban of alcohol purchase for that evening had been placed on her.

For the remainder of the cruise both my daughter and partner felt they were treated like second class citizens by security and many other staff. Other passengers who were witness to their abrupt removal from The dining room were also unnecessarily concerned in my daughter’s presence.

Interestingly I received no correspondence from the cruise line for over a month. I then; through friends of friends, engaged a journalist who interviewed my daughter and then tried to contact the cruise line for their side of the story. No one was available to speak with the journalist but surprisingly within 48 hours my daughter and her partner received a formal apology with acknowledgment that their treatment had been over the top. They also offered a full refund of their cruise fares. All though slow in response; and in my letter of complaint I never asked for money, I think the compensation was fair.

I also implored them to review their policy and procedure in regards to mental health
It is all very well to have a company policy intended to action potential instances of domestic violence or self harm by guests and that the safety of guests and crew is paramount. But does that mean that anyone with scars on their body, or any other out of normal appearance has the potential to be interrogated in a similar fashion?

It still remains a major concern to me that with out some clearer guidelines within their existing policy and procedure, the potential for similar treatment to others is likely to occur.
I would hate to think that anyone should ever be treated the way my daughter and her partner were treated.

Thanks to the hard work of both Jeff Kennett and now Julia Giillard, (Chair of Beyond Blue) mental health issues are been far more readily acknowledged and treated in a more positive and supportive nature. Their mission statement is focused on reducing stigma and discrimination. I would like to see this and other cruise lines (and other organizations) seek a advice from groups like Beyond Blue in formulating more progressive policies and procedures.

I am so proud of my girl in how she handled herself during this time and she has shown great strength in moving on from this, not dwelling on such a negative experience.  Perhaps a Strength She Never Knew.