Town calls out for help
Premier briefed on Kowanyama mental health crisis
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.