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Mental Health Workers Fight To Save Mental Health Services Across Gippsland04 December 2003
Members of the Health and Community Services Union will stopwork this Thursday morning as the campaign to save Gippsland’s mental health services intensifies.
Gippsland's Psychiatric Nurses and Health professionals will encourage members of the community to join their campaign to stop the Latrobe Regional Hospital cutting mental health services by $1.2 million. Staff will protest outside the front of the old Latrobe Regional Hospital site between 8am-11am to highlight the plight of mental health services in the Latrobe Valley and across Gippsland providing a hot breakfast for those who attend.
The protest comes a fortnight after Mental Health professionals, including Psychiatric Nurses held a mass meeting and unanimously resolved to conduct an industrial, political and community campaign to save mental health services in Gippsland.
HACSU State Secretary Lloyd Williams says "Our members were blunt in their assessment of the hospital's proposed budget cuts to mental health services. They will fight it!"
"The hospitals proposal to cut mental health services to the Gippsland community puts people with a mental illness at severe risk. Our members will not tolerate that and they were resolute at our last meeting", Mr Williams added
Thursday morning's protest outside the front of the old hospital site is symbolic as it is almost three years to the day since the Bracks Government announced "the fast tracking" of a new Community Care Unit and the rebuilding of the Latrobe Valley Community Mental Health Service on the old hospital site. At this stage the site is still an empty lot.
"In 2000 the Bracks Government promised the Gippsland community that mental health was a priority. I can understand why members of the community and people with a mental illness and their families are angry at what clearly is the Government's inability to act quickly on their commitments" Mr Williams said.
"Now we are facing a crisis situation. On top of the Government's failure to deliver on its mental health commitments years ago we now face a $1.2 million service cut. We are calling on Health Minister Pike and Premier Bracks to intervene and provide the funding to stop the hospital's cuts going ahead" Mr Williams said.
HACSU's campaign to stop cuts to mental health services will continue throughout December and into the new year. HACSU members determined at the last stopwork meeting that at the first sign of the cuts and reduction to services members across Gippsland will take industrial action.
Schedule: Protest and breakfast BBQ outside old Latrobe Hospital Site, Princess Hwy, Traralgon from 8.00 am, Thursday 4 December 2003. Lloyd Williams will be attending the rally and is available for interview from 9am.
Contact: Lloyd Williams, State Secretary, 0418 542 799 or 039 3472100