Back from break [six minutes at the top of the next hour after Cuff]
“Jesse Morgan” states his name.
He swears by Almighty God.
You have made a statement with the assistance of lawyers.
“In an official role and unofficial role”.
In 2015 he commenced an official role.
Who was in the home when you were growing up as a teenager?
Jesse; mum; brother.
Unofficial role: my mum had significant mental and physical health issues including agoraphobia - she stayed in the house and would stay in her room.
It meant that he had to step up and be more mature than he was and do stuff.
14 years at the time he described - the younger brother was 8 years old.
Jesse had a job and worked 6 days a week to provide for his family while going to school and extracurricular activities while trying to be responsible for himself and his mum and brother.
He ate a lot of pesto pasta - he had the same rotation - now pasta is banned in his household [very funny]!
He didn’t know a lot so he stuck to what he knew - easy things which are cheap because he didn’t have a lot of money.
Jesse didn’t have much support. Mum had case managers and people she would interact with.
Jesse and brother didn’t interact with support - couple fo reasons for that. He didn’t like talking to people.
He had a bad experience with a counsellor when he was younger and he didn’t like sharing emotions and didn’t know whether to deal with them - he decided not to.
The other reason: the constant fear of being separated from each other.
DHS [Department of Human Services] hung over as a fear and if they knew the extent of how they were living and the issues - brother and mother and Jesse would be separated and taken into foster care.
Engaging - he felt that telling people - that threat would be realised.
Practical things he did - another aspect is that you had to take turns to leave the house [Jesse and brother].
Jesse’s turn would be outside of high school and help around the house and when the brother got home took over.
They would end up fighting often - who had to stay home.
Many Friday nights the brothers would have plans - one of them needed to be home.
2015: Jesse’s Mum’s condition. What happened?
Halfway through 2015 something came to a head at the end of the year - she was being poisoned by the medication she was on - she was having hallucinations auditory and visual.
She could feel things in her and on her skin that were there - command hallucinations - brothers have lots of stories about what happened
As a carer he helped her in the bathroom and showering in case she was falling over and other reasons.
She came home from something and had fallen over in the yard. Jesse was sleep and his mum was screaming and she was on the ground.
“I am on fire,” said the mother - she felt like she was on fire.
Jesse needed to call the ambulance but he had a conservation in his head - she doesn’t want to be taken away to the psychiatric ward.
He had a battle inside his head - had he betrayed his Mum’s trust? Did he call the ambulance?
She was admitted to hospital - to Box Hill. She was put on an involuntary order or involuntary hold in the psychiatric ward.
They tried to wean her off her medication. She was put onto a different medication.
Christmas Day 2015 - brothers went to see the Mum at Maroondah - travelled by public transport - the round trip was 5 hours by public transport.
Brother didn’t go because he didn’t want to see Mum in that state - mother didn’t recognise Jesse who did go on.
He spent five minutes in the room. WE went back to have a frozen meal for Christmas.
She spent until March 2016 from admission to being discharged. It was tough for the brothers.
Jesse had to look after his brother and he was almost an adult by 2016. “We were trying our best”.
Mum came off her medication [the majority]. She was treated in a way that was inhumane and like she was almost comatose by the medication.
The boys didn’t recognise her either - she wasn’t our mother.
She was determined not to go back or get in a position where this could happen again.
Now she is empowered and she created and maintained a support network for herself that allows her to get better and better. It was self-driven.
She needs assistance for shopping and lifting heavy objects.
For Jesse is easier - less around physical help and more around emotional support and championing Mum and trying to keep her going and how she is doing a good job.
Commissioner asks about the Carers’ Allowance: he started receiving it in 2015-16 - before he didn’t know he could get it. He was on Youth Allowance and looking for a job that he knew he wasn’t going to take because he was caring.
He didn’t care about the result of it and he just kept looking for jobs.
Social workers pointed it out - Why aren’t you on the Carers’ Allowance?
Jesse’s own mental health issues - his father was abusive from 0 to 6 years old.
It had significant impacts on the brothers and Mum - different mental illnesses for them all.
As a result of the impact of the father - until he was 20 he was an angry person. He was physically violent and verbally abusive - that was the role modelling he received.
How you are meant to deal with your emotions and relate to other people.
That was part of it, and as he got into his teens he started dealing with undiagnosed depression.
He had never got a formal diagnosis - having been around depression and did his research - that is how he felt.
When he had lots on his plate he dropped out of year 12 because of his depression and caring was even harder. He felt like instead of going to school he would focus on one thing that was stressful enough [and that makes a difference when school often doesn’t].
He would often stay in his room because he didn’t want to deal with anything.
What needs to change with the system?
- Firstly, in terms of caring, as a young carer, he was listening to Rose and Jesse would like to echo a lot of it. “Everything was hard; I didn’t know what I was doing; deal with own emotions and help Mum and be a crutch for my brother”. The threat of separation hung over. If one thing can change people can look into that and set up support which is not threatening. Peer support would have been great. Mum said “You could have been engaged with peer support - it would have been less scary”. Mum had lots of supports - Jesse and the brother didn’t. Someone to interact with if he didn’t know what to do - having your own case manager.
- Statistics into young mens’ mental health is atrocious - suciide is then cause of death in young men - three times more than women. Young men don’t know how to share. His lived experience and his brother’s lived experience and the groups experience - suggests it’s hard to share and tell them that life sucks sometimes. Early intervention into that - and telling guys what being masculine isn’t being tough. Having the ability to say I’m not OK - that’s a hundred times better. [Jesse is crying here]. The Mancave is an organisation he mentions that goes into schools. Emotions for guys to recognise.
Do the Commissioners have any questions?
Jesse is excused.