House debates

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Statements by Members

Gilmore Electorate: Mental Health Services

1:45 pm

Photo of Fiona PhillipsFiona Phillips (Gilmore, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

With the triple hit of drought, bushfires and now coronavirus, mental health services in my community have never been more critical. That is why I find it astonishing during bushfire recovery that the Minister for Health is choosing to allow an established mental health outreach service in Ulladulla, a significantly impacted bushfire area, to close all for the sake of $70,000.

The Shoalhaven Women's Health Centre has been helping women in the Shoalhaven for 35 years. They know they can make that small amount of money go a long way, and it will make a difference. Without this funding, the centre will be forced to cease its outreach in Ulladulla. It will have to reduce its operations in Nowra. This means that not only will women who have been to hell and back this summer lose these essential services; staffing hours will also be cut, putting even more people in my bushfire impacted area out of work. This is not good enough.

I wrote to Greg Hunt pleading with him to fund this service two weeks ago in the midst of these crises. The answer was a resounding no. I find this absolutely astounding. But perhaps coming from a government that continues to make false promises and flashy announcements about support for bushfire communities, I shouldn't be surprised. I implore the minister to reverse this decision and provide these vital funds immediately.