Politics Sector News — 22 July 2014

The future of a Central Australian mental health program provided by the Royal Flying Doctor Service is up in the air.bigstock_Judicial_System_3106777 

Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon has accused the government of lies and “breaking promises to Aboriginal people” amid claims there is to be a reduction in funding to NT Medicare Local.

“This reduction in NT Medicare Local funding has meant that the service provider (of a remote mental health program) – the Royal Flying Doctor Service, is no longer able to deliver this much needed service,” said Mr Snowdon.

“Mr Abbott has refused to roll over funding for the NT Medicare Local even though other health organisations have been able to roll over their funding.”

Mr Snowdon has claimed this would impact on the mental health program, which services ten remote Aboriginal communities and more than 50 outstations west of Alice Springs from Docker River and Mutitjulu in the south, to Kintore and Papunya in the north.

“The Medicare Local is now looking for another service provider for the mental health services but with the reduced funding it will be more difficult to find a provider.”

Mr Snowdon has said that at the end of this month these communities may not be serviced by trusted mental health professionals and the consequences of this could be dire, and could lead to self-harm and other mental health ­setbacks.

“Mr Abbott promised to maintain funding that Closes the Gap,” he said.

“This is yet another example of where he is breaking that promise to Aboriginal people.

“I call on the Health Minister Mr Dutton to explain why the funding for this service, through Medicare Local, was not rolled over to allow the RFDS program to continue.”

Peter Dutton has hit back at the claims, saying the Mental Health Services in Rural and Remote Areas (MHSRRA) program funding has not been reduced.

“The Australian Government funds both the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) and the NT Medicare Local to deliver MHSRRA services,” Mr Dutton claimed.

This article first appeared on NT News on 18 July 2014.

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