Shadow Treasurer and Member for Mulgrave, Curtis Pitt, says the closure of the Cairns Time Out House is yet another in a long list of callous cuts by the LNP government to frontline services.
“The Time Out House Initiative (TOHI) has been a great success in helping young adults between 15 and 25 maintain their mental health and wellbeing, providing them with a safe and supportive living environment while they access community supports,” Mr Pitt said.
“It is inconceivable that the LNP government could allow it to be shut down with no consideration of an alternative service or other means of support.
“Time Out House has had a team of dedicated and qualified mental health support staff providing both community outreach services and 24/7 residential non-clinical care.
“On-site workers are helping to link residents with counselling and specialist clinical and mental health services on their journey to recovery.
“LNP funding cuts mean the health workers have lost their jobs and the community has lost a valuable service.
“Aftercare Queensland which runs Time Out House has pointed out that the program has been independently evaluated as a successful pilot of an innovative community support service for young people with mental health problems.
“But despite that, the LNP government has declined ongoing funding.
“I simply cannot understand the short-term view taken by Health Minister Lawrence Springborg and the Newman Government on this and many other valuable frontline health services across the state.
“While I have concerns with their chosen model, I support the LNP Government following Labor’s lead to establish the Queensland Mental Health Commission (QMHC).
“I’m asking the Local Health and Hospital Board and the Newman Government to at least continue the TOHI until the QMHC can take a look at the outcomes of this important program.”
Mr Pitt said the Time Out House service is an effective and cost-effective way to deliver services to young people.
“It has saved our health system money when you consider the cost of in-patient care,” he said.
“The alternative is to admit young people to high-cost, acute mental health beds in the Cairns Base Hospital.
“During the three-year TOHI pilot program 40 young people have been supported at the house and about 100 people have been supported in the community.
“The average stay in supported accommodation has been 50 days and clients have used a wide range of activities to improve their confidence and resilience.
“Key outcomes have been increased participation in paid work or formal study as well as reduced use of acute mental health services.
“Each year, one in five Australians will experience a mental ill health, and one-in-two will experience it during their lifetime.
“We need more community mental health supports – not less – and we need to ensure people experiencing mental illness know that help is available, and where they can access support. The Cairns Time Out House is one such place.”