Barrier Breakers funding

THE development of specially designed units for supportive accommodation in Traralgon for people with mental illnesses moved a step closer this week with a public announcement of the State Government’s decision to fund a vital component of the project.

Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge announced the government would fund MIND, a partner of Barrier Breakers in the project, with $348,000 over the next four year to provide outreach support to the proposed tenants of the units.

“It will be an important service for people who are referred from Latrobe Regional Hospital,” she said.

In a letter to Barrier Breakers, Ms Wooldridge acknowledged the active role played by the organisation in advocating for the provision of supported accommodation for people with mental illnesses. She said she appreciated the time and effort Barrier Breakers had taken to advocate on behalf of these people.

“Once agreement with Department of Health officers has been reached on the service model, timeframes and once the capital development has been complete, new funding of $87,301 per annum will be allocated to MIND to provide free moderate and 100 home-based outreach support places,” Ms Woolridge said.

“This funding is to support people with mental illness to access the Eastcoast Housing service in Traralgon, or other regional activity as agreed.

“The extra funds have been allocated to MIND in recognition of their existing capacity in the provision of home-based outreach services for people with mental illness.”

Barrier Breakers has partnered Eastcoast Housing Association, MIND Australia and Latrobe Regional Hospital Mental Health Services to source funding for the project and to ensure the provision of clinical and outreach services for the tenants.

Barrier Breakers chief executive Derek Amos said Eastcoast had committed $600,000 to the capital cost of building the six units that were proposed and that it expected to raise a further $150,000 for the project through its public appeal.

Mr Amos said Latrobe Regional Hospital had relinquished the lease of Crown Land that it held in Traralgon to allow Eastcoast to lease the site for the project. He also said subject to this lease being granted, the Department of Housing had committed a further $450,000 towards the capital cost of the project.

“Thanks to a very generous public response to our appeal, we are on track to raise the $150,000 contribution we are committed to,” Mr Amos said.

“Our charity dinner last year raised in excess of $30,000 and other events in the past year had almost matched that effort.

“This Friday we are hosting the second of our charity dinners and we hope to better last year’s effort.”

Mr Amos said while the wheels of bureaucracy turned slowly, everyone involved in the project was hopeful the other arms of government would expedite the process of the lease application to enable a speedy commencement of the project.