Politics — 08 August 2013

The Newman government will close the only mental health unit in Queensland that houses teens with severe mental disorders.

The Barrett Adolescent Centre is an in-patient psychiatric unit at Wacol, in Brisbane and part of the a school campus. It treats 13 to 18-year-olds.bigstock-depression-teen-girl-cried-lon-27260714

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said its services would be decentralised after it shuts down next year.

“That centre will be closing as we come up with a range of new options to deliver those services to people closer to their own home,” he said.

The Centre was earmarked for closure last year, but community and parental pressure forced the state government to keep it open.

Opposition health spokeswoman Jo-Ann Miller said the closure was a betrayal of the state’s most vulnerable young people.

She said it was being closed despite a clinical review that found its residential model of care and integrated special school was an essential part of a statewide mental health service for young people.

Mrs Miller said the decision meant highly vulnerable adolescents could find themselves on acute adult wards at risk of violence and sexual abuse.

“This is an appalling decision that could have catastrophic outcomes,” she said.

The decision came despite the Queensland Mental Health Commissioner last week says she expected the centre to stay open in the medium term but would eventually be replaced by community integrated model.

‘‘I am not sure that we still want young people living on a psychiatric campus, going to school on campus,’’ Commissioner Dr Lesley Van Schoubroeck told the Brisbane Times.

‘‘I think in 10 years time … we want the kids closer to home in the community – but still cared for and not at risk of doing serious harm to themselves or somebody else,’’ she said.

An online petition protesting the closure had garnered more than 4,200 signatures this morning.

As first appeared on Psychiatry Update, 7 Augusy 2013


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