Professor slams loss of funding

A LEADING Australian mental health researcher has slammed the decision from the State Government to refuse almost $25 million in Federal funding for new services on the Fraser Coast.

Professor Patrick McGorry, guest speaker at the inaugural Wide Bay Mental Health Conference yesterday, spoke out against the decision.

Prof McGorry, who was named 2010 Australian of the Year for his role in reforming youth mental health programs, said the loss of the promised facilities was distressing for patients and carers on the Fraser Coast.

"I think they are very concerned over it, and quite rightly," he said.

The funding would have meant an upgrade to Maryborough's existing 14-bed sub-acute facility and a new 18-bed acute inpatient facility in Hervey Bay.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said the State Government had refused the funding because it could not afford the operating costs of the proposed facilities.

"I'd like to appeal to the State Government to prioritise mental health," Prof McGorry said.

Prof McGorry did praise the Wide Bay Mental Health conference, which continues today at the Brolga Theatre.

It has attracted about 180 health workers, patients and carers and mental health experts from across the country.

Wide Bay Mental Health Services director George Plint said the conference was the first step in making the area a regional centre of excellence in mental health care.

National Mental Health Commission consumer representative Janet Meagher spoke about her own experience as a schizophrenia sufferer.

She said the event was a message to the Fraser Coast community that a mental illness was not a life sentence.

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