Need for youth short-stay service

GIPPSLAND has a “pressing need” for a new short-stay youth mental health service, the State Opposition claimed last week.

Calling on the State Government to provide a new Youth Prevention and Recovery Centre for the region, Opposition Parliamentary Secretary Wade Noonan told The Express there were just 10 short-stay PARC beds in Bairnsdale to service Gippsland’s population of 250,000.

“We believe this is not adequate to meet existing and future demand,” Mr Noonan said.

“Labor is calling on the Ballieu Government to fund a dedicated Youth PARC in the Gippsland region as part of the forthcoming budget.”

The Opposition claimed “service gaps” in a number of Victoria’s regions, including Gippsland, were putting the mental health of young locals “at risk”.

“We know that one in five Victorians will suffer a mental illness during their lifetime,” Mr Noonan said.

“Prevention and Recovery Care beds help people in their recovery from mental illness, looking after people who are not sick enough to be in hospital, but too sick to stay home on their own.

“People are being identified as needing assistance with their mental illness earlier, and they’re being treated earlier.

“We also know the needs of young people are different from those of adults, so it’s vital that treatment and care is delivered in a youth-friendly environment.

“Youth PARCs provide tailored care for people aged 16 to 25 years and reduce the need for admission to hospital or enable people to leave hospital earlier and get on with their lives.

“It’s clear PARC services make a substantial difference to recovery and relapse rates, so the government needs to ensure these types of services are made available where people live.”

Mr Noonan said, while in Opposition, State Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge had supported a Parliamentary Committee finding, which called for PARC services to be extended right across the state.

“However, now in government, the Minister is singing a very different tune, saying more service planning is needed,” he said.