Step up, Step Down facility's planned location questioned by Glen Iris residents

Residents in Glen Iris have raised concerns over the proposed location of the Greater Bunbury Region’s new Step Up, Step Down facility. 

Last month, a group of residents attended a meeting with Southern Joint Development Assessment Panel Commission, Mental Health Commission, and Western Australian Planning Commission representatives over its proposed location on Vittoria Road. 

Health Minister Roger Cook said the site works for a 10-bed Step Up, Step Down service were expected to begin in October. 

“Community mental health step up/step down services offer a supportive, residential environment where people living with a mental health issue can stay for a short period of time, usually up to 30 days,” he said. 

“This new service is for people who live in the Bunbury community and surrounds whose mental health and ability to live well in the community can be enhanced through a short stay in supported accommodation. 

“These people are currently residing in the community with limited support services in place.”

Having lived in the area for the past 21 years, Bradley Wood has voiced his distaste for the chosen location. 

During his presentation, Mr Wood addressed the centre’s proposed location as well as the perceived lack of consultation with people in the area.

Mr Wood said members of the Southern Joint Development Assessment Panel asked for community members to “trust, take on, observe and monitor the facility”.

They exclaimed that the facility would support people with mental health issues, and that it was beneficial for the area.

Along with attending last month’s discussion, Mr Wood has held talks with other residents and has sent submissions to the WA Planning Commission.

Mr Wood previously conducted a letterbox drop covering 50 residences, with all of the responses going against the proposal.

He added the Mental Health Commission had carried out a 300 letterbox drop with only 11 per cent of people responding.

Mr Wood said 91 per cent of those responses were against the proposed site.

“Most of the people in the community didn’t even know it was going to be there, so we went to the meeting and tried to state to them our concerns,” he said. 

“There’s no benefit to the Step Up, Step Down facility being in Glen Iris.

“We’ve got numerous schools in Glen Iris and there’s a skate park kids often use. 

“We’re worried about property values as well, there are quite a few other concerns we have.” 

Mr Wood said the organisations involved need to educate the community and “help to break the stigma of mental illness”. 

He said the facility should be placed closer to a hospital or the CBD. 

Bunbury MLA Don Punch said from his understanding the development seemed to comply with normal practices.

“The centre is designed to be a community-based mental health facility,” he said. 

“Right around Bunbury there are many activities that are about supporting people in our community.” 

A Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage spokesperson said: “The panel adopted the WA Planning Commission’s recommendation to approve the application, with amendments to the proposed conditions”.

They said the WA Planning Commission had carried out public consultation in July. 

They added their decisions adhered to the Planning and Development Act 2005 and the City of Bunbury’s local planning scheme.

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