Meeting of minds

TOP mental health experts convene in Maryborough today to begin a two-day conference with local patients, carers, family members and health professionals still reeling from the State Government's decision to knock back almost $25 million in Federal Government funding for the sector.

Around 180 delegates will attend, with leading youth mental health expert and former Australian of the Year 2010 Professor Patrick McGorry set to play a key role in the conference set up by Queensland Health.

National Mental Health Commission consumer representative Janet Meagher will also be heavily involved in the program.

A burning issue will be how to improve mental health care services in the Wide Bay after the Newman government torpedoed plans to build a new $20 million acute unit in Hervey Bay and add three new beds to the 14-bed sub acute unit in Maryborough as part of a $4.7 million upgrade.

With a modest $13 million budget increase to be spread across all public health services in the Wide Bay region, the government has sent a clear message that change must emerge structurally from within the public health sector as it will not be driven by external funding.

Executive director of Wide Bay Integrated Mental Health Service George Plint said the conference will give consumers and carers a voice.

"It will be a safe and supportive space for people who use mental health services and those organisations that deliver them to share their diverse experiences and expertise," Mr Plint said.

"Our aim is to encourage shared decision making between everyone involved, which can only help to improve the way recovery orientated services are delivered.

"Having consumers and carers involved is a way we can ensure quality mental health services are delivered."

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