Mental health program shuts doors after funding cuts


Image by Tobias Heine from Pixabay

Hundreds of lives may be at risk by the closure of 30 mental health clinics next month, after government funding was cut to the GROW program.

The program, which has been running for 56 years and aims to support people across Perth and the South-West, has been forced to close the door of all but 13 of its centres from June 30.

GROW WA service director Dr Judy Edwards told reporters that these types of programs help people recover from mental illness and that there has been no practicable substitute for member’s psychosocial needs.

“Every existing mutual support and self-help organisation has been defunded through this process, with funding for psychosocial mental health services decimated,” Dr Edwards said.

“We help give people a new purpose in life,” she said.

“We have a process that helps incorporate leadership and responsibilities from our service and this can transform their lives” she commented.

The Mental Health Commission decided to refocus their spending on a “broader system-wide approach”, putting the spotlight on issues such as youth psychosocial support, individual advocacy services, youth mental health and AOD homelessness service.

Minister for Health and Mental Health, Amber-Jade Sanderson stated in a press release on 11 May that patient care and wellbeing is at the forefront of every health investment decision the Labor government makes.

“The McGowan Labor Government is investing record amounts into our public health system to ensure it keeps up with the needs of the entire Western Australian community.” Mrs Sanderson commented.

Representatives from the Mental Health Commission did not respond to further questions on the issue.

On department website it is stated that there has been a significant shift away from commissioning activity-based community services in search for better outcomes for consumers.

In spite of cutting funding to programs like GROW, the Labor government did announce in the 2023-24 Budget a $420 million increase to mental health spending, a 57.3 per cent increase since 2017 when the McGowan Government were elected to parliament.