Town calls out for help

Premier briefed on Kowanyama men­tal health cri­sis

The Cairns Post - - NEWS - CHRIS CALCINO chris.calcino@news.com.au If you or some­one you know needs help, call Life­line (13 11 14) or the Sui­cide Call Back Ser­vice (1300 659 467), or see a doc­tor.

A CAPE York com­mu­nity in the grips of a men­tal health cri­sis has called on the State Govern­ment to build a new well­be­ing cen­tre to help put an end to years of trauma.

Kowanyama woman Priscilla Ma­jor wrote to Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk in July, urg­ing her to visit the re­mote town stuck in spi­ralling num­bers of sui­cide at­tempts.

The town had de­scended into de­spair af­ter a car rammed into a house where mourn­ers were gath­er­ing for a fu­neral, killing one woman and in­jur­ing 25 oth­ers.

The touch­ing let­ter stated the Kowanyama Women’s Group’s “tears have run dry”, strik­ing a chord with the premier.

Ms Palaszczuk yes­ter­day stayed true to her prom­ise to see the tragic sit­u­a­tion for her­self, hear­ing from Ms Ma­jor about the need for in­vest­ment in the town’s men­tal health.

“Kowanyama strug­gles with the lim­i­ta­tions of fly-in, fly-out agen­cies,” Ms Ma­jor told the premier.

“This in­ad­e­quate ser­vice of­ten means there is no con­ti­nu­ity of staff, and a lack of un­der­stand­ing of the need to fo­cus on heal­ing and preven­tion rather than im­me­di­ate treat­ment

“We need fund­ing to de­velop a pro­gram that brings our women to­gether, one that will over­come in­di­vid­ual and fam­ily dys­func­tion, men­tal health dis­tress, sub­stance abuse and sui­cide, which ad­versely im­pact on the health, ed­u­ca­tion and eco­nomic out­comes across the com­mu­nity.”

Ms Ma­jor called for a heal­ing cen­tre to be es­tab­lished be­side the town’s arts and cul­tural cen­tre, pro­vid­ing help tai­lored specif­i­cally to indige­nous needs.

Ms Palaszczuk laid a wreath at the site of the tragedy be­fore meet­ing stu­dents at the lo­cal school.

She flew into Cairns yes­ter­day af­ter­noon to at­tend a fundraiser for La­bor can­di­date for Cairns Michael Healy and will at­tend the cen­te­nary cel­e­bra­tions of Cairns State High School to­day.

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