The Nationals WA have endorsed the provision of a step-up step-down mental health facility in Kalgoorlie at the party’s annual State Conference on Saturday, October 29.
Candidate for Kalgoorlie Tony Crook and Member for Kalgoorlie Wendy Duncan MLA championed the cause and welcomed the support of The Nationals WA to deliver a better outcome for people and families dealing with mental illness in the Goldfields.
“At present, Kalgoorlie-Boulder is the only regional city in WA that does not have a step-up, step-down facility to support the hospital’s inpatient mental health unit,” Mr Crook said.
“Given the high incidence of mental health problems reported, and given that community mental health services are accessed at a significantly higher rate in the Goldfields than the rest of the State, action needs to be taken.”
Mr Crook said the State Government’s approach to funding had caused uncertainty and created distress for those with mental illness, their families and carers in the region.
“For the Minister for Mental Health to promise funding, only to pull the rug out from under us when the community has worked so hard is bitterly disappointing.”
Member for Kalgoorlie Wendy Duncan MLA called on the Minister for Mental Health to reinstate the funding in a grievance in Parliament recently. While the Minister acknowledged the need for a subacute facility in the Goldfields she said there was no funding available.
“This is not acceptable. The people of Kalgoorlie-Boulder deserve the same level of quality health services that have been delivered in other regional areas and metropolitan areas,” Ms Duncan said.
“It has been clearly demonstrated that it is far less expensive for government to support mental health patients in a subacute facility rather than a hospital.”
In 2015-16 an acute-care mental health bed in a WA hospital cost on average $1,384 per day, compared with $595 in a community step-up, step-down service.
Earlier this year Mr Crook and Ms Duncan brought mental health advocates together to call on the Minister for Mental Health to deliver the promised mental health step-up step-down facility and launched a petition which was tabled in State Parliament.
“A step-up step-down facility for Kalgoorlie-Boulder has been a community priority for more than four years,” Mr Crook said.
“The State Government has made a number of pledges over this time, including a $2.5 million allocation for a six bed subacute service in the Goldfields which was anticipated to become available in 2014-15. Unfortunately this funding fell off the table and was put into similar projects in other regions.”
“If elected on March 11, the people of Kalgoorlie-Boulder can be confident that I will fight tooth and nail to ensure our community has a sub-acute mental health facility alongside Kalgoorlie Regional Hospital and I’ll deliver that outcome with the full support of my Nationals WA colleagues.”