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Byron Shire
February 27, 2021

Mental health support lacking

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When you hear money has been poured into mental health in recent years and then see that mental health non-government organisations are being phased out and now run by corporate businesses it just breaks the heart.

This area is rife with mental illness (acutely sensitive people) often running away from the stress of the cities, and the little services we do have are vital to those people who cannot manage and feel unwell and unsafe on a daily basis.

Ontrack Community Programs is a ‘business enterprise’ (their words, not mine) that has the funding corner on mental health, disability and homelessness services from Tweed to Port Macquarie.

It has announced recently that it is definitely closing its Mullumbimby branch and has promised very little, and although the clients (or consumers as they are now referred to) feel like their safe house has been ripped from them, the excuse is ‘funding cuts’.

I used to work there. The wages for workers are pathetic and the money stays right up in the corporate pocket. The high-functioning may benefit but the rest get left out in the cold literally unless they show a profit for the business.

This cottage used to be an NGO service run by a good-hearted man who cared deeply for the underdog; it was a haven for many to access support in various ways, a familiar place, good programs and somewhere in your own area where you felt you were included.

Many people chose to live in Mullumbimby and the shire for its tolerant community, and the cottage has been there for so long.

There is nothing, I repeat, nothing else in the shire other than casual care service programs that come from Tweed.

This decision should not be about how much profit is being made, but about offering services to those that need them. This shire needs them. Welfare services should not be business enterprises.

Odette Nightsky
New Brighton

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