TAMWORTH has been given the green light to build a better Banksia.
The mental health unit is slated to get funding under the NSW government’s $700 million spend on mental health infrastructure, which was announced in Tuesday’s budget.
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said the critical commitment the result of “strong advocacy from a passionate community”.
“In March this year I tabled a petition of more than 13,000 signatures and I thrilled to see the community’s hard work has been rewarded,” Mr Anderson said.
No price tag has been put on the new facility, and Mr Anderson said extensive planning was needed until a figure was settled on.
“Planning and community consultation will identify improvements needed for Banksia to transform it into a modern facility to accommodate the most contemporary models of care,” he said.
“I want to bring the Tamworth Mental Health Carers Support Group along as part of this journey and have our community and volunteers involved in that process.”
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The group’s chair, Di Wyatt, said there may be plans already drawn up, as part of the stage three redevelopment of Tamworth hospital that never went ahead.
“We’re looking in to that now,” she said.
“Either way, we want to talk to former patients about the new facility, because they’re the ones that know what we need.
“Once we’ve got the plans drawn up, then we can apply for funding.”
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Ideally, Ms Wyatt would like to see everything under the one roof to make the new Banskia a one-stop shop for mental health patients.
“At the moment, if someone needs help at Banksia, it can take some time for a doctor to get up there,” she said.
“Even that short distance can create quite a problem.
“Getting everything in the one place will make it more more therapeutic and easier for people to rehabilitate. They’ll be able to heal faster and back to their lives.”
Mental Health Minister Tanya Davies said the NSW government’s $700 million Mental Health Infrastructure Program was on top of the $2.1 billion delivered in this year’s mental health budget.
“This is the biggest single investment in mental health infrastructure in Australia’s history and will help us build new specialist mental health units, upgrade outdated facilities like Banksia and develop, ‘step-up step-down’ community-based beds,” Ms Davies said.