Mother watches over son while he sleeps on the street
A DESPAIRING Sunshine Coast mother has resorted to joining her homeless and drug-addicted son on the streets.
Leanne Thompson is so terrified that something will happen to her "baby boy" if she dozes off, that she even stands over Daniel for up to 6½ hours at a time.
Desperate for any help, she wonders whether jail might be the best option for the 25-year-old.
Ms Thompson told the Herald Sun that her son has been hauled before the courts at least twice, including for smoking drugs in Bourke St, but has been let off each time, despite once abusing a magistrate.
The Palmview mum, who chronicled the downward spiral of her 25-year-old drug-addicted son, has received overwhelming praise for exposing the harsh reality of "human misery".
Leanne Thompson's picture standing above her son Dan while he sleeps on the streets has recaptured the nation's conversation surrounding drug addiction - causing a "lump in the throat" of everyday Aussies.
It comes as some homeless in Melbourne criticise the 25-year-old for refusing help.
"I've been trying to get accomodation and I can't. This person got everything he wants, doesn't want it," one man, Darren, told Nine News.
"I thought, 'what a lucky kid, he's got parents who care'."
Leanne, along with her husband, frequently to Melbourne to ensure Daniel's safety and mental wellbeing. She says after moving interstate, Daniel's descent into destitution came fast - in just under a year he went from living a "normal" life to sleeping on the footpath of Melbourne's CBD to chasing cash and drugs, mainly synthetic marijuana.
He has been living on the streets for four months, has psychotic episodes and has turned to a life of crime.
She's been visiting every week to "keep an eye on him and make sure he's OK". She's become such a frequent visitor to the streets she knows many of the homeless by name.
She says they're "supportive" of her mission to save her son and asked him 'why don't you let them help you'?
"But when people have an addiction they lose that capacity to make the correct decisions for their own well-being."
In an interview with host Tony Jones, Leanne said her son is "not receptive" to the family and he's "quite anti-us".
"I don't think he feels he has a problem and I think he just he sees us as authority figures, but we're just loving parents who want to make sure our son's OK".
Jenny Mikakos, Minister for Families and Children, told Nine News the chief psychiatrist has been examining Dan's case since last week.
"We've spoken with Dan and we've had workers say to Dan, 'we can drive you to the accomodation now', the Salvation Army's Maj Brendan Nottle said.
"'We can go and pick up your gear and take that as well', but Dan's actually said, 'let me think about that', and hasn't gotten back to us."
What a courageous woman. Victoria's mental health system needs a total overhaul. Help mothers help their kids. pic.twitter.com/SDGSQRRmDS— Laura Turner (@LauraTurner_9) July 9, 2017
@3AW693 Leanne is incredible. To have to watch your child sleep on the streets. Thoughts with her family.— Georgia Main (@georgiamain7) July 9, 2017
Leanne has been forced to sleep on the streets with Daniel - and has packed a sleeping bag, blanket and "great big garbage bag to put underneath me to sit on".
"I can't do it every night but sometimes when I've been extremely concerned for his well-being, when he's very unwell, that's what I've had to do."
His family says Dan had a priveliged upbringing; he was raised with a private education at Siena Catholic College and grew up to travel overseas and gain full-time employment.
It was when Dan began dabbling in marijuana with his "peers", that his life seemed to go downhill.
"It's become almost as big a problem as alcohol abuse now," Leanne said.
"It's very, very, difficult, I just keep questioning why? We have (four) other children, they're all succeeding and doing very well in life. It's very difficult to keep it together.
"When I'm not down there I try and divert my thoughts away from it, which is almost impossible. I try to keep very busy.
"The best therapy is focusing on getting him some help. It takes up a lot of my time and the frustrating part is there is nothing forthcoming in regards to help."
The image went out to thousands of Australians after being splashed on the front cover of the Herald Sun.
In the Herald Sun story, Leanne described one time when Dan smoked "synth" and became "psychotic".
"He lay on the tram tracks, violently bashed his head against a street sign," Leanne wrote.
On 3AW Leanne told Tony Jones that despite her son's rejection and the lack of government support, she still feels there is hope.
"There is occasionally [a little bit of old Daniel], a couple of times he's asked about how my friends are, that type of thing.
"Sometimes you see little glimpses of it. We don't really know what frame of mind he's in because he hasn't been without drugs in his system long enough to see if there's any sort of permanent damage.
"This synthetic marijuana, which is legal in Victoria, it does terrible things to people."
"The Government's doing nothing to clean up the human misery … of this legal drug."
Leanne is urging the government to introduce involuntrary treatment programs to force him off the streets.
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