MENTAL health carers in Tamworth are taking their fight for a better Banskia Unit to Macquarie St, after launching a petition this week.
As the fight continues for better facilities at the Tamworth Hospital Mental Unit, the city’s Mental Health Carers’ Support Group is hoping to garner 10,000 signatures for the issue to be heard in state parliament.
It follows a public campaign by the group and Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson for upgrades to the outdated facility.
Group chairperson Di Wyatt appealed for community members to get behind the cause.
We’ve started a petition for a new Banksia, for better beds,” she told The Leader.
“I’ve been up there and spoken to the staff.
“There wouldn’t be many people who wouldn’t know someone who has a mental health problem and at the same time, they don’t know when they’re going to have one.
“It can be a break down, the stress of work and a lot of things and Banksia only has 25 beds and that’s not enough.
“I just want to say to the people of Tamworth, please get behind us.”
Mrs Wyatt said a larger facility would help to cater for the wider region.
“They can send you to Armidale, but they only have eight beds, that’s 33 beds for the whole region,” she said,
“We really need a new facility, more beds. We’ll be sending these petitions out to everyone we can think of.”
Support group member Irene Radoll said the facility was in need of an urgent upgrade.
“I don’t find it’s a very nice place to be,” she said.
“It wasn’t an accommodating place, I think they need to have more things to do there. If you’re suffering from anxiety or depression you should be doing something to keep your mind active and keep you going.
“Upgrades would hopefully put something in place for them.”
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said he was happy to bring the issue to the floor in parliament.
“We need the whole community to get behind this,” Mr Anderson said.
“If I’m going to push for this, to build a better Banksia, I believe we need the whole community to get behind it.
“I’ve encouraged them to start the petition and I’d be very happy to take it forward on their behalf.”
The group will need 10,000 signatures to get a ministerial response on the project.
Previously, Mr Anderson said he has toured the facility and had been told,in its current state, it was not a good place for “healing.”
He’s made representations to NSW Minister for Mental Health Tanya Davies on the issue. Meanwhile a state-wide review into mental health units across the state is under way.
The Tamworth Hospital Banksia Unit provides inpatient mental health support for about 900 voluntary and involuntary admissions each year.
The petition is expected to be distributed across the region.