Backflip on beds a setback
PEOPLE whose lives revolve around the mentally ill are aghast at the State Government's rejection of funds to establish new mental health facilities in Hervey Bay and Maryborough.
Carers, friends and relatives who deal day by day with the consequences and uncertainty of living with mental illness say the LNP's refusal to accept almost $25 million in federal funds for mental health services is a setback.
When the prospect of a $4.7 million redevelopment of the in-patient facility in Maryborough and a new $20 million, 18-bed acute in-patient facility in Hervey Bay was floated last year, the initiative was welcomed.
Member for Wide Bay Warren Truss condemned the debt the State Government inherited from Labor and offered to work with his federal and state counterparts to reduce the stress on mental health services in the region.
"I am disappointed that the mental health upgrade in Maryborough will not proceed at this time," Mr Truss said.
"Mental illness is a serious issue within our community and much more needs to be done to help those suffering from it.
"The Federal Government should work with the State Government to ensure that our region has the health services it needs.
"I am prepared to meet with state and federal health ministers if it would help to improve services in the region."
For Maryborough facilitator of the Association of the Relatives and Friends of the Mentally Ill, Kathleen Muir, the LNP government's scotching of the mental health facilities is a heavy blow.
"It was distressing, because of the need," Mrs Muir said.
"We live in hope but I don't see him (Health Minister Lawrence Springborg) reversing it, at least not completely.
"People that really do need extra care often can't get it because the beds can be full, just like the whole hospital system."
Mrs Muir said the group met once a fortnight at the mental health unit in Maryborough.
"We usually get nine or 10 to a meeting and a couple of our members bring along some bickies," Mrs Muir said.
"We all know that a lot of the problem is that there is not enough funding and there are not enough professional people on the ground at the mental health unit or at the community care.
"They do the best they can but they could do with a lot more support."
Mrs Muir's comments came as Disability Services Minister Tracy Davis announced Autism Queensland would get $210,000 to modify a property at Sunny Bank Hills in Brisbane for people with a disability.
The funding is part of the Positive Futures capital grants initiative for 2012-13.