By Danielle Kutchel
Cardinia could gain its own full headspace centre if Labor wins the May election.
On Wednesday 17 April, Labor’s candidate for La Trobe Simon Curtis and shadow assistant minister for mental health Senator Deborah O’Neill announced funding of $3.5 million to create the new resource.
The location of the new centre is yet to be confirmed, but Mr Curtis said he would work with Cardinia Shire to find a suitable location.
“We need to make sure it’s close to public transport hubs and all of the activity centres in Cardinia,” he said.
“It’s so important that we have this access to full services and accessible services, because for someone living in parts of our community down through Cardinia, to have to get … to Narre Warren to … come here is just not an option for someone suffering mental ill health.
“We can’t do enough in my view to help plug the holes in our mental health system in this community. It’s grown so quickly, and one of those really important challenges is the mental health of our residents.”
Staff at EACH, the lead agency that runs headspace Narre Warren, said the new centre was sorely needed given that the Narre Warren facility is one of the busiest in the country.
“There’s been a 30 per cent growth in activity every year for the last three years,” said Nicholas Teo, EACH area manager for southern Melbourne.
“We do see a proportion of clients from the Cardinia region and we’d love to see more, so I think that’s part of the opportunity this has for the Cardinia region.”
La Trobe MP Jason Wood and Flinders MP Greg Hunt had previously announced $1.5 million for a headspace facility in Pakenham, which Bernie Durkin, director of operations at EACH, described as a “satellite”.
“The alternative proposition was that it would be a satellite operation which would be a partial response; this [announcement from Labor] feels like a more full response,” he said.
Dean McCaughan, centre manager of Narre Warren headspace, said a full-scale centre could provide the consistent care that the community needed.
“A full-scale headspace centre can offer support for mental health, AOD, primary health and work and study support.
“A full centre … would be that hub that people would come to, that would be able to deliver those integrated services.”
You can contact Headspace Narre Warren on 1800 367 968.