The great Headspace debate
AFTER months of debate and community discussion, a regional mental health facility was last week announced for the region.
On March 30 at the Comet "Bare All” Charity Ball, Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd announced the Federal Government would establish a satellite Headspace service in Emerald.
Minister for Health Greg Hunt said the need for a Headspace service in Emerald had been impressed upon him by MrO'Dowd and reinforced by community support.
"I want our young people to know they are not alone on their journey and that Headspace is there to deliver quality frontline support and co-ordinate the right interventions for people who are at risk,” Mr Hunt said.
Mr O'Dowd said the LNP had committed nearly $400,000 to the service.
"The understanding is that it will be a satellite service to start off with,” he said.
"If the need is there, we can expand it to a full-on Headspace. We will have to see the response once we open it.”
While this may seem like a positive step forward for mental health in the region, Labor candidate for Flynn Zac Beers said community consensus was that a full Headspace facility was needed.
Mr Beers, who attended a community Headspace meeting on Wednesday morning in Emerald, said people were concerned a satellite service could have limited operating hours.
"What we were hearing very loud and clear from the community is that we need a full Headspace facility here, on the basis that not only do you want something based in the community to be accessible across the community but it needs to include an outreach function that can service the outlying areas in the Central Highlands and other communities,” he said.
"In particular, there was some feedback from some young people in the room - they want to make sure the facility is accessible at hours that are actually convenient for people who may need the support or need the service.
"When it comes to these kinds of services, you've got to make sure you get it right and you've got to make sure you give the funding to make sure it's going to work properly.”
In response to Mr Beers' comments, Mr O'Dowd said "we'll soon find out” if a satellite Headspace was insufficient.
"We can change the service and upgrade it,” Mr O'Dowd said.
"That's the condition I spoke to the minister about. He said it's not an issue and if it's insufficient, we'll do something about it.”