Doors may close on shed

MEN’S SER­VICE FACES MONEY WOES AS FUND­ING GETS CUT

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Jil­lian Mc­Kee

THE Shed in Emerton could face clo­sure af­ter the Fed­eral Govern­ment re­al­lo­cated fund­ing to sui­cide preven­tion ser­vices.

The men’s group has been op­er­at­ing for 12 years, help­ing more than 400 res­i­dents a month with ev­ery­thing from fi­nance to drug and al­co­hol re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

On Christ­mas Eve, The Shed was no­ti­fied by the Fed­eral Govern­ment that its usual fund­ing would no longer be avail­able and it would be forced to re-ap­ply for fund­ing or face clo­sure from July 1.

Co-or­di­na­tor Rick Welsh said The Shed was a vi­tal as­set for the peo­ple of Mt Druitt.

“Al­though we are Abo­rig­i­nal-male tar­geted, we don’t refuse ser­vice to women or any­one need­ing help,” Mr Welsh said.

“Some­times peo­ple come here just for a chat and other times peo­ple come with very com­plex cases.

“We help peo­ple ac­cess ser­vices, hous­ing and al­ready have ac­cess to ex­ist­ing health part­ner­ships. In this sense The Shed is a hub – a one-stop shop for all th­ese ser­vices. It would be great to keep it go­ing.”

Chi­fley fed­eral La­bor MP Ed Hu­sic con­demned the move by the govern­ment.

“I ab­so­lutely de­mand of the Health Min­is­ter a clear as­sur­ance that this new ar­range­ment will not re­sult in men’s sheds be­ing shut down and men­tal health sup­port be­ing de­nied to peo­ple in need in my area, all be­cause of some re­or­gan­i­sa­tion – some bu­reau­cratic mind­set – that says they are go­ing to change the way the strat­egy is run,” Mr Hu­sic said.

“The Turn­bull Govern­ment is hid­ing be­hind a sneaky, bu­reau­cratic fund­ing reshuf­fle to shut this im­por­tant ser­vice. I’m de­ter­mined to do what I can to stop this hap­pen­ing.”

A Health Depart­ment spokes­woman said lo­cal pri­mary health net­works would now di­rect sui­cide preven­tion ac­tiv­i­ties.

Mt Druitt’s pri­mary health net­work, Wen­tWest, said it was in­formed of the work be­ing done by The Shed.

“Wen­tWest, as the Western Syd­ney Pri­mary Health Net­work (WSPHN), is aware of the great work men’s shed pro­vides to marginalised and iso­lated males in western Syd­ney,” she said.

“In the mean­time WSPHN is work­ing with ser­vice providers to both seek their in­put into our needs anal­y­sis plan­ning and to con­sider the best way to en­hance fund­ing and sup­port for sui­cide preven­tion ini­tia­tives in western Syd­ney mov­ing into the fu­ture.”

Mr Hu­sic will be hold­ing ur­gent talks with The Shed rep­re­sen­ta­tives this week to re­ceive an up­date on their plans to save the ser­vice.

Pic­ture: PETER KELLY

The Shed’s cul­tural worker Don Mul­hol­land and co-or­di­na­tor Rick Welsh.

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