SOS: SAVE OUR SHED

Fund­ing cri­sis: Dead­line looms for pop­u­lar Emer­ton cen­tre

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - FRONT PAGE - Ali­son Bald­ing

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.

Pic­tures: Matthew Sullivan

Ed Hu­sic talks with res­i­dents and as­sists with some of the ac­tiv­i­ties at The Shed in Emer­ton on which is fac­ing clo­sure.

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