TAMWORTH’S public mental health facility is “no good” and “not safe”, says one local campaigner, and more than 12,000 people agree.
Grandmother Di Wyatt helped kick-start a petition to upgrade the Banksia mental health unit in November and next Friday she’ll hand it over to Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson, complete with 12,380 signatures.
Petitions of more than 10,000 signatures will be scheduled for discussion in the legislative assembly in the NSW parliament.
Mrs Wyatt said it was a fight which shouldn’t have had to happen, but she was “still very passionate” about seeing the service upgraded.
“It needs a complete rebuild,” she said.
“The floor plan is not good and it’s not safe.
“There’s a lot of places where the nurses can’t see people.
“It’s got people of all ages together, from 18 year-olds up to the very elderly and people with dementia and people coming-off ice.”
Mrs Wyatt heard a lot of stories while the petition was being circled and said frustration was being felt in Moree, Inverell and Narrabri where people were struggling to get into the Tamworth-based service.
Mrs Wyatt said she’d had family members who’d had “mental health problems” and explained where her passionate push to improve the service came from.
“I don’t want my loved ones or anyone to go into a facility like Banksia, unless they have to” she said.
“You want them to go to a really good facility.”
Each year there are approximately 1000 admissions to the Banksia unit.
Mr Anderson called on the NSW mental health minister, Tanya Davies, to release the findings of a recent audit of Banksia.
“It will set the direction in terms of what we’ve got to do,” Mr Anderson said.
“It does not, now, meet the needs of a current service delivery for mental health right across, not only for Tamworth but, the New England North West.
“It’s outdated it was built in 1993, I don’t believe it meets the needs of a modern mental health facility.”
Ms Davies was tight lipped about when an upgrade would be forthcoming.
“Banksia is one of a number of capital projects that will be considered for inclusion in the Statewide Mental Health Investment Strategy, which is being prepared for the government to assess,” she said.
“Kevin on a number of occasions has urged the government to prioritise Banksia in this process and I commend him on his advocacy on behalf of the community.”