Greens call on state government to keep Sunflower growing

The Greens today called on the state government to find urgent funding to keep a key regional community-based mental health service from closing.

The Greens candidate for Newcastle, John Sutton, said that the Sunflower Centre, based in Union St, Newcastle, would have to close by the end of the month unless it received $25,00.

“Anyone who has tried to access mental health services in the Hunter can attest that this part of our health and community services system is in crisis.

“The Sunflower Centre is Newcastle’s only remaining one-stop shop for information, support, advocacy and referral, and we just can’t afford to lose any more such services,” Mr Sutton said.

“It would be a disgraceful state of affairs if the state government couldn’t find the relative pittance necessary to keep an essential local mental health facility like this afloat, when it seems to be able to find hollow logs with much larger amounts for funding such things as fireworks and visits by international football celebrities,” Mr Sutton said.

“The Sunflower Centre operates a community development program that includes a large network of support groups, a telephone outreach service, a house call service, a drop-in centre, a resource and information centre, and a school education program, and accommodates a community development worker who services the entire Hunter region.

“These kinds of community-based facilities do so much with so little – they run on the smell of an oily rag, with the help of committed volunteers, and have to scrap for money from various program grants.

“If they don’t get $25,000 in the next few weeks, they will have to close their Union St premises by 30 November, and shut down many of their current services.

“At a time when the community and national figures such as the Australian of the Year, Patrick McGorry, are pressing for increased government support for mental health, the closure of a local facility such as this for the want of such a small amount of funding would send a disturbing signal about the lack of government will to respond to this key issue,” Mr Sutton said.

For further information or comment, please contact John Sutton (Greens candidate for Newcastle), on 4969 2668 or 0411 154 004.

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