SOS: SAVE OUR SHED
Funding crisis: Deadline looms for popular Emerton centre
MEN’S lives may be put at risk if a vital suicide prevention service is forced to close, says the co-ordinator of The Shed in Emerton.
Time is running out to find new funding for the service after federal support was scrapped in December.
Co-ordinator Rick Welsh said if The Shed closed many residents would be denied practical help saving them from suicide.
“This is a place where they feel comfortable and can access services they need directly,” he said.
Mr Welsh fears the funding will be relocated into the government’s broader mental health services – locking out smaller providers.
Federal Chifley Labor MP Ed Husic said The Shed was being forced to jump through hurdles to apply for funding it might not even get.
THE anxious wait continues for hundreds of residents who rely on services at The Shed in Emerton after federal funding was ripped away on Christmas Eve.
The clock is ticking for the community asset, which has until July 1 to find funds or face closure.
Despite this, questions put to the Health Minister Sussan Ley from Chifley federal Labor MP Ed Husic remain unanswered.
“I have spoken in Parliament about this funding crisis and asked for the minister to ensure the Em- erton Men’s Shed remains funded,” Mr Husic said.
“We have three months left for the Emerton Men’s Shed – if the government doesn’t commit to suicide prevention funding, then the community will be denied a vital service.”
Last week Mr Husic met with members and volunteers from The Shed to discuss the potential cuts.
“I’m pretty uptight, this shed has been operating for more than a decade and after speaking and writing to the Minister we still don’t have any certainty,” Mr Husic said.
Co-ordinator Rick Welsh says if The Shed closed he did not know what the men and women who relied on the services it provided would do.
“This is a place where they feel comfortable and can access the services they need directly, whether it be counselling, family law support, Centrelink services,” Mr Welsh said.
He said he feared the reallocation of their funding for suicide prevention services would be locked into the government’s mental health services. If that were to happen, Mr Welsh said many of the residents The Shed helped would be de- nied practical help.
As an example, Mr Welsh said some men who had been denied access to their children often needed legal support to regain custody more than someone to talk to about missing their children.
Bidwill resident Rhiannon Hart said The Shed was a great example of how support services should be provided.
“I like that I can sit under a tree and talk to someone here rather than inside a building or office. The services need to go where people are comfortable,” Ms Hart said.
A spokesman for Ms Ley’s office said the correspondence from Mr Husic arrived on February 29 and a reply would be made.
The spokesman said Commonwealth funding for suicide prevention activity was continuing as part of the new National Suicide Prevention Strategy, outlined in the government’s response to the National Mental Health Commission Review announced late last year.
Ed Husic talks with residents and assists with some of the activities at The Shed in Emerton on which is facing closure.