Tamworth Banksia unit upgrade petition heard in Parliament

Kevin Anderson
Kevin Anderson

THE harrowing stories of patients at Tamworth’s Banksia Unit have been aired in state parliament, as the fight for an upgrade to the facility continues.

In a private member’s statement on Wednesday night, MP Kevin Anderson detailed the experiences of mental health patients and their carers at the facility.

It comes after a 13,080 signature petition was lodged for its redevelopment.

“It (the petition) clearly shows that the community is right behind this project,” Mr Anderson said.

“I am determined to ensure that this mental health facility is upgraded.”

Mr Anderson took to the parliamentary floor and read aloud the experiences during the night sitting.

“We found Banksia to be dismal and dilapidated,” the statement from one couple read.

“We found it difficult to get in and difficult to get out.  There was no privacy while we were visiting our daughter.”

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Another Tamworth family said the facility was isolated and away from further support.

“My first impressions of Banksia were jail-like, drab and dingy,” the statement read.

“It was located at the back of the hospital, a long walk uphill from the hospital's emergency department and no support person to assist me in my crisis, shocked and frightened state.”

However, families said the fault was with the facility itself and not the hard working staff.

“Banksia, unfortunately, I would have to say, is in such poor condition that patients feel they are often discharged in a poorer state than when they are admitted. I cannot place blame on the staff, as they work under difficult situations and are often not trained in the mental health field,” a family member wrote.

The petition, organised by the Tamworth Mental Health Carers Support Group, will be discussed in the legislative assembly on Thursday, March 15.

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