The former Barrett Adolescent Centre was also closed down.
The former Barrett Adolescent Centre was also closed down. Inga Williams

Major mental health program to end within days

SOME of Queensland's most at-risk mental health patients will lose vital services that help keep them off the street as a funding agreement between the state and federal governments comes to an end.

A report by The Australian journalist Rick Morton showed the office of Queensland Health Minister sent a letter to the families of people under the care of the Housing and Support Program that the agreement, and therefore the service, expires at the end of June.

The report said 96 patients and their families would now have to find another way to pay for the vital services of mental health care, housing and support.

To qualify for HASP, people have to meet  a number of criteria.

This includes being an inpatient at a mental health facility who cannot be discharged because they are at risk of homelessness. They may also qualify if they live in the community but have a history of frequent mental health patient admissions and are at risk of homelessness.

The program provides both clinical and non-clinical support. The care is generally provided through a non-government organisation who receives funding per case.

People can only be nominated for the program by their local hospital and health service. 

The Australian reported these service providers were only notified at the same time as the families that no new funding would be coming through for the program.

The closure of the service comes three years after a similar high-level mental health service was closed down by the previous LNP government.

The 15-bed Barrett Adolescent Centre in Wacol was a specialist mental health unit shut down in early 2014.

It was the only long-term residential facility in the state for young people at risk of suicide.  Three of its former patients took their own lives after the facility was shut down.

The closure was the subject of an Commission of Inquiry earlier this year. The inquiry was one of Labor's election promises during the 2015 state campaign. 

Closure of the Barrett centre had been earmarked since at least 2012. 

More than 1000 people signed a petition, tabled in parliament in early 2013, urging the government to keep it open.

The ALP's then shadow health minister Jo-Ann Miller and then Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk were highly critical of the decision in the year before the centre closed.

Both met with patients and families in December 2012 and described the speculation around the closure as callous and a double crossing.

If you or someone you know needs help, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit http://www.lifeline.org.au/gethelp.
 


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