Mental Health

Echo 9 August 01

Mental Health

Waiting lists for psychiatric treatment are lengthening at an alarming rate. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare recently released statistics showing that since 1998 there were 11.6 per cent fewer available beds and 19.7 per cent fewer patients were admitted to hospital while the number of people treated on a same-day basis increased 3.4 per cent. In some cases throughout NSW, psychiatric patients have been admitted to non-psychiatric wards in rural areas and there can be very adverse consequences when this happens. These incidences and statistics highlight the necessity to pursue adequate mental health funding and I will continue to do so. It is time mental health was taken more seriously by the Carr Government.

Airlines

The State Government has announced the scrapping of the annual licence fees for some country commuter airlines. This will assist, but only marginally as the fee represents only 0.2 per cent of regional air service costs. I will be suggesting to the Carr Government that they give consideration to assisting local government with the cost of providing local airports and also consider extending seniors' and pensioners' travel concessions to include small country airlines in the same way that these concessions currently apply to privately provided CountryLink buses and private buses in the metropolitan area. The viability of country airlines depends on there being an affordable fare structure to ensure adequate loadings, which in turn equates to service.

Olympic Bus for Lismore Electorate

The Lismore electorate was very fortunate to have been successful in attaining one of the 60 disabled-fitted Olympic mini buses that made it to country NSW. 525 applications were received from organisations from Broken Hill to Albury and Tweed Heads. Minister Lo Po announced the allocation to Northern Rivers Community Transport. The Minister also encouraged recipients to share mini-buses with other community groups and for unsuccessful groups to make contact with those awarded a bus. The buses are worth approximately $70,000 and there were four awarded to Far North Coast community groups, being Tweed Valley Respite Service Inc, Northern Rivers Community Transport Inc., Grafton Community Bus Inc., and Clarence Community Transport Inc.

HSC Texts

A recent media report that some HSC students were still without vital text books two weeks before trial HSC exams was concerning. Country students have enough difficulty in accessing resources without the basic impediment caused by a lack of texts. This is the first year of the new HSC system and this brings added pressures on top of the lack of texts. Students adversely affected in the Electorate should be entitled to special consideration. I would like to be advised of any local school without HSC texts as a matter of urgency, so that I may make personal representations.

Mortgage Assistance Scheme

This scheme provides short-term help to people experiencing temporary difficulties with the home loan repayments as a result of an unavoidable change in their circumstances. These changes may be due to unemployment, accident, illness or some other crisis. Mortgage Assistance is not a grant but a loan to be repaid at a future time.

Funding Programs for Children with Disabilities

Intervention Support Program - supplementary funding for educational programs for young children with disabilities below school age and for children with disabilities in residential care funding. Closing date is 28 September 2001.
Capital Grants for Projects at Non-Government Centres - for the benefit of children or students with disabilities. Closing date is 31 August.
Application forms and guidelines may be obtained from the website www.det.nsw.edu.au/eas/isp or by contacting my office.

West of the Range Visit

I will be conducting a West of the Range visit on Friday 17 August and I will be calling into Bonalbo, Old Bonalbo, Urbenville, Woodenbong and Legume. During my visit to Kyogle on Monday 13 August, I will also call into Grevillia and Wiangaree. For appointment times and enquiries please contact my electorate office on 6621 3624.

Herb Festival

I congratulate Louise Barry, Lismore Unlimited and the many local sponsors who have worked so hard to organise the inaugural Northern Rivers Herb Festival, which begins this Saturday. This is a 9-day celebration of natural living, emphasising the major participation of the Northern Rivers region of NSW in the herb industry that is highlighted though the promotion of Cellulose Valley Technology Park. I encourage the community to support and patronise the many varied events.

Supporting the inaugural Northern Rivers Herb Festival 11- 19 August 2001
www.herbfestival.org

Lismore Contact Details:

Office: 55 Carrington Street  LISMORE
Postal: PO Box 52  LISMORE  NSW  2480
Telephone: 02 6621 3624
Facsimile: 02 6622 1403
Email: lismore@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Murwillumbah Contact Details:

Telephone: 02 6672 7577