Member for Kalgoorlie, Wendy Duncan MLA, used a grievance in Parliament today to call on Minister for Mental Health, Hon Andrea Mitchell to deliver on the promised mental health Step-Up Step-Down facility for Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
“The lobbying for a Step-Up Step-Down facility has been actively on the community agenda for more than four years, with continued pledges by government over this time that the needs of the mentally ill in the Goldfields region will be met through supporting the acute mental health unit at the Kalgoorlie Regional Hospital with a Step-Up Step-Down facility,” Ms Duncan said.
Ms Duncan quoted a commitment by previous Minister for Mental Health, Hon Helen Morton in November 2012 that “$2.5m has been allocated for the six bed subacute service in the Goldfields anticipated to become available in 2014-15.” (Kalgoorlie Miner, 29/11/2012).
“Ever since that time, the funding has been on-again, off-again in the State Budget, causing a great deal of distress to those with mental illness, their families and carers in the Goldfields,” Ms Duncan said.
Ms Duncan went on to say she could not understand how the State Government could identify the need for 21 subacute beds in the Goldfields in the Western Australian Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drug Services Plan 2015-25 Better Choices, Better Lives (Dec 2015) and then withdraw the funds in the 2016 Budget stating that mental health needs were being adequately met by the mental health unit at Kalgoorlie hospital.
“This is bizarre given that only in March of this year we were talking about use of the mental health unit at Kalgoorlie Hospital being on occasion over 103% and then Minister Morton responding on this issue saying it would be resolved by the provision of a sub-acute facility.” Ms Duncan said.
On announcing a location for the site of a six bed sub-acute facility in June 2015, Minister Helen Morton, said it was expected that works would soon be underway for the $3 million facility.
“It is nothing short of devastating that funding had been withdrawn after repeated commitments to the project,” Ms Duncan said.
“So our valiant mental health campaigners in the Goldfields have to get themselves fired up all over again to fight this battle they thought they had won. Led by Nationals candidate for Kalgoorlie, Tony Crook they rallied to petition the Government with Mates 4 Mates, Community Mental Health, Carers, Consumers and Local Government meeting on the designated site to put their names to the cause.”
To date 550 signatures have been collected with more being added as the push to reinstate the allocated funding deepens.
“To keep this issue at the front of mind, I strongly encourage residents to sign the petition if they have not already done so, or write to the Minister showing their support for the facility and outlining why it is so desperately required.”
Petitions can be signed at my office while Minister Mitchell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at 7th Floor, Dumas House, 2 Havelock Street, West Perth, 6005.