Published by Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell MP
A Mount Gambier mental health centre surviving ‘from grant to grant’ deserves ongoing State Government funding to secure its future, said Mount Gambier MP Troy Bell.
In a motion to State Parliament this week, the Independent MP highlighted the precarious financial situation of The Junction Mental Health Activity and Resource Centre, which has facilities in Mount Gambier and Millicent.
Mr Bell will press the State Government for $150,000 annually in the upcoming State Budget, which he says will help ‘future-proof’ the service.
“The Junction is a volunteer-run organisation which is filling a major gap in the Limestone Coast region’s mental health services,” he said.
“Many services end after diagnosis or a defined period of time or treatment but The Junction provides that ongoing support to get you back on your feet.
“This year will mark 10 years of operation for The Junction, yet they continue to run on a shoestring budget. What they need is ongoing funding to expand their services and give the centre some surety for the future.”
Due to a lack of resources, the centres are only open for two days a week and were dependent on a core group of around 25 volunteers to run activities.
“It’s fantastic that volunteers are stepping up to run these programs but a facility that provides important mental health services should not have to depend on volunteers alone,” Mr Bell said.
Mr Bell also praised the work of Coordinator Nel Jans, describing her as the main driver behind the centre’s continued existence.
“When funding was withdrawn in 2012, Nel continued to donate her time to run the centre, despite the lack of a steady wage,” he said.
“I’ve known Nel for more than 10 years and she is a determined and absolutely passionate about mental health but it’s unfair to expect a qualified and experienced mental health worker to continue to volunteer her time year after year.”
Mr Bell said ongoing funding would give the centre the ability to expand services and programs for the long-term, a move which would benefit the entire Limestone Coast community.
“If this organisation had been funded over the last ten years, possibly thousands of people may have been able to access assistance, help and ongoing support at a time when they needed it,” he said.
“You only have to look at one of The Junction’s leading volunteers Bronnie, who first came to the centre as a client, dealing with severe anxiety and depression.
“Once her confidence began to grow, Bronnie became a peer support worker and began to run group sessions. Now, she’s the Treasurer, relief Coordinator and gets to help others take their first steps towards recovery – the perfect example of what a centre like The Junction can achieve.”
Statistics showed mental health will impact every single South Australian at some stage of their lives, Mr Bell said.
“It’s a basic fact 45 per cent of South Australians will experience a diagnosable mental illness at some time in their life and the remaining 55 per cent will be impacted by those who do,” he said.
“Organisations like The Junction are performing an incredibly valuable service in our community.”