The Shoalhaven Women's Health Centre has been providing vital mental health outreach in the Ulladulla area thanks to funding from the Federal Government, but that funding ended in June and the outreach is now set to close due to a funding black hole.
The centre has requested an additional $70,000 from the Federal Government to allow the local outreach to continue but so far, the government has refused to provide any further support for the service.
The Ulladulla region has experienced a harrowing year with drought, bushfires, floods and now coronavirus and Member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips MP said this is the worst time to be losing mental health support.
The Gilmore MP recently met with the local counsellor Suzanne Buzza to hear about the impact the loss of funding has had on local people in need.
"We simply cannot afford to lose this service right now - it is already in place and helping women in need. The Morrison Government needs to step up and provide this funding as a matter of urgency," Fiona Phillips said.
"It is appalling that this vital service will be forced to close for the sake of $70,000.
"We need mental health services in our community now more than ever.
"It is absolutely vital that the local community is receiving the support they need to recover from this year from hell and the loss of this service would be devastating."
Mrs Phillips said the government had turned its back on bushfire impacted communities across the South Coast.
"If the government is serious about addressing the mental health impacts of these compounding disasters, then they will step up and stop this outreach program from closing before it is too late," Mrs Phillips said.
A spokesperson for Minister for Health, Greg Hunt said funding decision are made by Primary Health Networks (PHNs) and are independent of government.
"The Morrison Government is committed to ensuring all Australians, including those in the Shoalhaven, are able to access mental health support and services, and have the appropriate level of care tailored to their individual needs," the spokesperson said.
"Primary Health Networks (PHNs) are funded to undertake planning and commission services to address the prioritised health care needs of their communities.
"Commissioning decisions of PHNs are made locally and are independent of government.
"The South Eastern NSW PHN has been engaging with local community, stakeholders and service providers in Shoalhaven to ensure services are designed to meet the specific needs of the local community.
"Further funding is within the power and authority of the PHN and we strongly encourage the PHN to consider this given the additional resources we have provided."
The Federal Government provides all Australians access to a range of health services nationally such as telehealth under the Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) and a variety of digital and phone mental health services.
A range of resources are available at Head to Health, the Government's digital mental health gateway, at: www.headtohealth.gov.au/covid-19-support.
A new 24/7 support service, the Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service is also available free of charge to all Australians at coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au.
If the content of this media release raises concerns for you please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Kids Helpline on 1800 551.