Impatient follows artist and activist Sue Armstrong’s efforts to make the Victorian mental health system safer for women. Graphic stories of the rape and sexual abuse of female psychiatric patients have shocked Victorians, but it’s all terribly familiar to Sue. “Genetically radical” and with her own lived experience of mental illness, Sue has been campaigning for fundamental changes in the treatment of women’s mental health for over two decades.
A lot has been achieved over the years, but women continue to be unsafe. Sue’s main goal is to see the re-establishment of female-only psychiatric wards, where women and girls may choose to be treated. As simple and as logical as Sue’s proposition sounds, there are significant obstacles to overcome – financial, political and practical.Sue tilts at her campaign in her own way. A trained fine artist, video producer and figurehead in the outsider artist movement, Sue brings her intelligence, humour and creativity to her efforts.
In Impatient, in between making zombie movies and posing in penguin costume, Sue takes us inside the mental health consumer advocacy movement, reveals the history of women’s treatment, introduces us to the psychiatric profession, and leads us into the political realm, where the crucial decisions about the safety of vulnerable women must be made – and made soon.
With a glimmer of political will emerging from the current state government, Sue and her colleagues must seize the moment to push through the most significant reforms for women’s mental health since the 1960s. Without real, systemic change, Sue fears that yet another generation of women will be subjected to sexual abuse and harassment whilst in psychiatric care – and she knows too well the consequences.
Impatient presents a unique, insider’s perspective on the psychiatric system and raises critical questions about its ability to safely and respectfully treat women at their most vulnerable. The film is made by a female-only crew, with an emphasis on the dignity of mental health consumers, but also with spirit and humour. Sue’s experience, commitment and considerable charm make her a compelling and authoritative guide to a complex issue that demands our immediate attention.
The Spirit of Moonee Valley Community Awards, with Sue Armstrong as winner of the OUTSTANDING