BETTER rehabilitation programs for those living with mental illnesses could be run by The O’Brien Centre if ongoing funding can be assured, according to the Mid Western Consumer Advisory Group (MWCAG) chairman.
The mental health rehabilitation centre, run by MWCAG, can receive up to $20,000 funding from the Western NSW Local Health District each year, but MWCAG chairman Peter Folakis said volunteers at the centre must reapply for funding every three months.
Mr Folakis says this means consumers, from mental health programs at Bloomfield as well as those living in the community, and volunteers are living in a never-ending state of uncertainty, unsure whether the centre’s doors will remain open a few months down the track.
“Until three years ago, recurring funding was assured. People did have assurance that we would continue to be funded. Now we can’t plan long-term,” he said.
Mr Folakis said if funding could be guaranteed for the long term, the centre would be able to open more often, provide more activities like woodworking and excursions, and attract more volunteers, which it was struggling to do so currently.
He said statements provided to the Central Western Daily by Jason Crisp, director of Integrated Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Services, and member for Orange Andrew Gee, confirming funding would continue in the 2015/16 financial year were a positive sign, but was still anxious as no written confirmation of this had been provided to the centre.
“The Health District supports The O’Brien Centre through the provision of $20,000 contribution per year, a staff member, rent-free premises on land owned by Ministry of Health and free utilities,” Mr Crisp said in the statement.
“I am advised the Local Health District works closely with the centre and has recently provided support and guidance in applying for appropriate grants and will continue to help the centre look for opportunities for outside funding,” Mr Gee said.
Mr Folakis said health service funding currently only allowed for one paid service representative to be on the MWCAG.