South West MLC Adele Farina has hit out at the state government after the 2016-17 WA budget lowered the amount of funding given to the Mental Health Commission for projects including a sub-acute mental health facility in Bunbury.
Ms Farina said last year the government allocated $13 million from Royalties for Regions for the commission but this year the commitment has been cut to $11.1 million with no evidence the Bunbury project has been progressed in the past year.
“It is very disappointing to see the Barnett government has cut $2 million from its commitment to deliver a sub-acute mental health facility for Bunbury”, Ms Farina said.
“At the 2013 election Mr Barnett promised a 10 bed sub-acute facility for Bunbury and this year the budget papers talk about funding ‘to support a reconfiguration away from acute beds where appropriate to meet forecast demand’.
“Funding allocated last year remains unspent and the mental health minister can’t tell the community when construction will start or where the facility will be located.”
In December 2015, the WA Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drug Services Plan 2015-2025 promised Bunbury a facility with 10 sub-acute mental health beds by 2017. Premier Barnett said the plan was the realisation of principal recommendations made in the 2012 Stokes Review.
Mr Farina said the budget papers also show $1 million has already been spent on this project despite the minister responding to a question in parliament that the funds have not yet been released from Royalties for Regions.
“Each day the government delays, people needing access to the facility are denied the support they need and ultimately the community bears the cost of this inaction.”
Last week, the Mail contacted Mrs Mitchell to ask if funding was still committed to the project, when construction would likely start and when the facility would be open for use.
Mrs Mitchell said the project remains a priority for the Commission and she understood work was progressing to secure the necessary approvals.
This week the Mail asked Mrs Mitchell’s office if they could confirm what the $1 million had been spent on. A response was not received in time for publication.