Fears mental health centre at Wacol may close
MORE than 3000 people have signed a petition calling for the continued operation of the Barrett Adolescent Centre mental health facility at Wacol, after a senior doctor hinted at its closure.
Doctor Brett McDermott, executive director of the Mater Child and Youth Mental Health Service, told the Queensland child protection inquiry he understood "the 15-bed centre will close at Christmas".
"This is a decision by adult mental health directors who, in my opinion, know very little about child abuse," Dr McDermott said.
Queensland Health's Lesley Dwyer, chief executive for the West Moreton Hospital and Health Service, said no final decision had been made about the centre.
"The transfer of adolescent mental health beds to other facilities in south-east Queensland is an option being considered," Ms Dwyer said.
She said the West Moreton health board would take into account the Barrett Centre's location in the grounds of The Park - Centre for Mental Health, which functions primarily as an adult service, as well as "the national reform agenda to ensure young people are treated closer to their homes".
However, petition creator Alison Earls said the Barrett Centre provided an essential service.
"For some patients I would imagine it's their last chance," Ms Earls said.
Ms Earls started the petition on communityrun.org.
An anonymous centre staff member said the facility was the only one of its kind in Queensland.
"Patients go through acute wards in hospitals and come here for long-term care," they said.
"We have a school attached and patients can do work experience and adventure programs.
"Why put them back in hospital beds when they can do so much more here?"
Past Barrett Centre patient Jessica Dawe said she was concerned the possible closure would put young people at risk.
"To close this facility down will cost lives not save them," she said.
"We need it [Barrett] as more young people are faced with chronic and traumatic mental health issues."