Supported housing push ramps up

Mental health advocacy group Barrier Breakers has ramped up its push for supported accommodation units to be constructed in every major Gippsland town.

The group is circulating a petition across the region in a bid to attract pre-election commitments from all candidates for $10 million to fund the facilities, which would provide a permanent home for people with a severe and chronic mental illness.

“We’re looking at a whole new range of service provisions with this new Mental Health Act, but the thing that’s missing is the provision of supported accommodation for the chronically mentally ill,” Barrier Breakers chair Derek Amos said.

“We will be setting up meetings with all state election candidates,” he said.

The organisation failed to gain support for the project in this year’s state budget after lobbying Housing Minister Wendy Lovell, Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge and Gippsland members of parliament in February.

Barrier Breakers report about 4000 Gippslanders have a severe mental illness, but there were less than 100 fully supported accommodation units in the region.

The proposed units would mimic the six set to go ahead in Traralgon’s Hyde Park Road, where residents will be able to take part in day activities and access clinical support.

Project leader Eastcoast Housing yesterday said, the project would go to tender in the next two to three weeks.

Managing director Meigan Edmondson said the association hoped construction would start in September or October and it would also build a further four units on the site for people from the general population on its waiting list.

The project will be funded with $450,000 from the State Government, $600,000 from Eastcoast Housing and $150,000 from community donations.

The State Government has also allocated $348,000 to Mind Australia, which will provide a support worker to assist residents in day activities.

Latrobe Regional Hospital’s community mental health service will provide clinical support.

The petition to roll out the Traralgon model across Gippsland can be signed at the Barrier Breakers office in the Kath Teychenne Centre, 11-13 Breed Street, Traralgon.

The group can be phoned on 5174 4588.