O'Brien Centre's cry for help: further funding needed to stay afloat

CENTRE OF ATTENTION: Member for Orange Andrew Gee with O’Brien Centre volunteers Tanya Naven, Peter Fotakis, Nic Dennis and (front) Paul Whitfield and Naomi Carter during a visit yesterday when he was asked to help secure more funding for the centre. Photo: JUDE KEOGH  0717obrien1

CENTRE OF ATTENTION: Member for Orange Andrew Gee with O’Brien Centre volunteers Tanya Naven, Peter Fotakis, Nic Dennis and (front) Paul Whitfield and Naomi Carter during a visit yesterday when he was asked to help secure more funding for the centre. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 0717obrien1

ON the same day a new plan for the treatment of people with mental illness was announced, members of the O’Brien Centre were calling for funding to keep the service going.

The O’Brien Centre is on the Bloomfield campus and supports people with a mental illness by providing activities and a chance to socialise.

Secretary Tanya Naven said the centre provided meals and recreation for a small fee.

“At the moment we can only manage to have activities one day a week because we don’t have enough funding,” she said.

“It is really important for people to have somewhere they can come to interact with others in an environment where it is non-judgemental and supportive.”

Chairman Peter Fotakis travels from Wellington once a week to join in the activities.

“We have nothing like this where I live,” he said.

Mr Fotakis, who is a former mental health worker, is concerned  the plan to integrate more people with mental illness into the community  will not work without adequate support.

STORY: MENTAL HEALTH PATIENTS MOVING INTO THE COMMUNITY

“I have mental health problems myself. I came from Perth where they tried to do this and, unfortunately, unless there are residential models with several people in the one house with 24-hour mental health nursing care, it won’t work,” he said.

“People with a mental illness are vulnerable. People who are psychotic or paranoid and don’t have that continuous monitoring end up back in hospital or in jail. It can be like a merry-go-round.”

During a visit to the O’Brien Centre yesterday member for Orange Andrew Gee was asked if he could help secure more funding for the service.

“That wasn’t the reason for my visit today as I was unable to come here for the 15th birthday celebration,” Mr Gee said.

“But now that I have been asked I will speak to the appropriate people and explore opportunities for funding.

“Clearly the volunteers here today are very passionate about this centre.”

Mr Fotakis said he was grateful for the support and enthusiasm shown by Mr Gee to visit to the centre and listen to clients’ concerns.

janice.harris@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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