The Cottage Mental Health Service

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Health questions regarding adult community mental health rehabilitation services.

Leave granted.

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: The Cottage is a service currently operated by the Eastern Mental Health Services at Stepney. The service is located in an old cottage and sits alongside other well-known community groups such as No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability. Clients of this service are referred by various service providers and can participate in tailored activities to support them to reach their own mental health rehabilitation goals.

Recently, I understand that clients of the Cottage have been advised that they are now discharged from the service, and I understand that some clients were told they were transferred to Tranmere Eastern Community Mental Health Service facilities in the first instance and then they were discharged. I understand that the Cottage is to be closed as of 8 December, with services to be redeployed elsewhere. My questions to the minister are:

  1. Can he confirm or deny that the Cottage is flagged for closure and that that will occur as of 8 December?
  2. What is meant by ‘redeployment’ in the context of the mental health services currently provided at the Cottage?
  3. Considering that Christmas can be a very difficult time for some people, what measures have been taken to ensure continuity of care rather than dislocation in the lead-up to the holiday period?
  4. Have clients been consulted about the loss of a safe and familiar place for mental health support?
  5. How did SA Health communicate these changes to clients of the service?
  6. What other support services currently exist that are suitable for current clientele of the Cottage?
  7. Will staff from the Cottage be providing community mental health services elsewhere?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Health, Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse): I thank the honourable member for her question. Delivering mental health services in this state is an important function. There are a number of ways and facilities in which we aim to deliver that, and the government has in place a plan to continue to improve that over the years to come. Indeed, the honourable member herself deserves great credit for her recent negotiations with the government, and the government intends to honour those commitments, notwithstanding the fact that they were part of the bank tax negotiations.

She is a strong advocate for mental health services in South Australia and since taking on the portfolio, I think it is fair to say that we are better for her advocacy because mental health—and this is acknowledged, I also know, by members opposite; it is a bipartisan issue—is an area that is gaining increasing attention and notoriety as is appropriately the case. As the stigma that is associated with mental health continues to break down—and we hope that is what takes place—naturally people will be more forthcoming in sharing their experiences and, in due course, one would hope that resources follow, regardless of who is in government.

I am happy to take on notice the questions that the Hon. Ms Vincent raises in regard to that particular service that she is talking about. I haven’t, to the best of my knowledge, received any information regarding that up until this point. I actively encourage the Hon. Ms Vincent to share with my office the case that she is referring to and see if we can’t get a response to her quicker than what the formal question on notice process would take, notwithstanding the fact that we will do that anyway.