Lot sale sees planned Karratha mental health facility progress

Alicia PereraPilbara News
The new proposed site in Bulgarra for a mental health step-up step-down facility in Karratha.
Camera IconThe new proposed site in Bulgarra for a mental health step-up step-down facility in Karratha. Credit: Facebook

Plans to establish a step-up, step-down mental health facility in Karratha have taken a significant step forward after City of Karratha councillors approved the sale of a Bulgarra lot flagged for the development last week.

A 3500sqm parcel of land on Gregory Way, Bulgarra, will be the site of the $9.7 million proposed facility after councillors voted in favour of a motion to sell it to the Department of Communities, on behalf of the Mental Health Commission, for about $490,000.

City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said the six-bed clinic would be an important addition to mental healthcare offerings in Karratha.

“We haven’t had this (type of) facility before, and mental health is becoming more and more of an issue in our community,” he said.

“It will be a real benefit to us and we’ll be really pleased to have it.”

Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel said there was an acute need for such a facility in the Pilbara.

“We all know the amount of suicides (the Pilbara) had from December to now, and it really touched a lot of families,” he said.

“The State Government is doing our bit to make sure that we have the step-up, step-down facility, and I want people to work with us and make sure we have this up and running so we have the facilities to attend to these issues.”

The proposed facility, which would service the whole Pilbara, is intended to provide short-term residential support for people after hospitalisation for mental illness or those at risk of deteriorating mental health and possible hospitalisation.

Approval for the Bulgarra lot purchase marks the end of a drawn-out process to secure a site for the centre, which was originally expected to be opened in 2018.

In 2017 the centre’s original planned location on Gawthorne Drive in Millars Well drew community opposition because of its proximity to homes, schools and licensed venues, and it took a year before the Mental Health Commission selected Gregory Way from a list of potential new sites compiled by City councillors.

That site has also been opposed by a group of Bulgarra residents holding similar concerns.

Health Minister Roger Cook said it was a “huge relief” to see plans for the facility moving forward and he was keen to see fast progress on the project.

“These step-up step-down facilities provide exceptional sub-acute care for people who are either coming out of hospital or need to have a short residential opportunity to get themselves back on their feet, so that’s why it will be a huge boon for mental health services in the Karratha and broader area,” he said.

“I’ve seen it operating in Albany, it’s a great facility, they provide really good services and Karratha will greatly benefit from it.”

Mr Cook said once the land purchase was official, a key next step for government would be securing a service provider for the facility.

He said he hoped the centre would be operational by late 2020.

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