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MISSING IN ACTION

Gippsland’s mentally ill have missed out once again, according to Barrier Breakers, the region’s mental health advocacy group.

In commenting on an ABC 4 Corners program that exposed Victoria’s failure to spend millions of dollars of federal government monies earmarked for supported accommodation for the mentally ill, Barrier Breakers Chairman, Mr. Gordon Arthur, a Traralgon based surgeon, has blasted the state government for ignoring the plight of Gippsland’s mentally ill.

Last year, the federal government allocated $100 million to the states to provide supported accommodation for the mentally ill. Victoria’s share was around $25 million to provide 70 new accommodation places. But despite an accommodation crisis in this state, the state government has spent none of it. By contrast, NSW has already built 17 new units.

Mr. Arthur said he was stunned by the 4 Corners revelation.

“How can there be such a callous disregard for the plight of so many people, he asked. We are talking here of some of the most disadvantaged people in our society.”

Mr. Arthur said that Gippsland is in desperate need of additional supported accommodation places for the mentally ill.

“Gippsland has more than a 100 fewer beds for people with a mental illness than the region had in the decade 1966-76 – a 62% reduction in beds and a 40% increase in population.”

“There are less than 50 supported accommodation units in the whole region that are specifically reserved for people with a mental illness despite the fact that 1 in 5 people in our community are sufferers.”

“Nor is there any mental health specific supported accommodation for indigenous peoples in the Gippsland and yet they have special needs to be addressed, which continue to be ignored.”

Mr. Arthur said Barrier Breakers supported the call of the Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA), who this week called on the federal government to take over responsibility of actually providing community-based beds.

The CEO of MHCA, David Crosbie, said this week that the states appeared to not “have the resources or the capacity to provide the number of community-based beds we need in this country.”

“Families and their carers are at crisis point. Their plight demands that governments’ take immediate action to sort out this unholy mess”, Mr. Arthur concluded.

For further information – contact Gordon Arthur on 51741878 0r Derek Amos on 51527711

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