Mental health royal commission hears plea from witnesses for better care of rural patients

Chris Thomas and her husband of 26 years Trevor says itʼs a relief to have given evidence at Maryboroughʼs Royal Commission into Victoriaʼs Mental Health System hearing this week.

A farmer who had to travel close to 200 kilometres for psychiatric help and a woman who had to tell her husband he was homeless so he could stay in a hospital bed were among those who shared their stories at the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System hearing in Maryborough this week.

Maryborough played host to the only scheduled royal commission hearing outside of Melbourne after Central Goldfields and Pyrenees shire councils, the Maryborough District Health Service (MDHS) and Maryborough Education Centre wrote to the commission, which seeks to identify flaws in the state’s mental health system.

The hearing, which was held at the Maryborough Community Hub on Monday, heard from three community witnesses, including MDHS CEO Terry Welch.

Mr Welch, who was the first witness to give evidence, said MDHS covers around 12,000 community members, more than 1000 of whom are on mental health plans and of this, 250 are children or adolescents.

In speaking to the commission, Mr Welch said on average 15 patients present to the Maryborough Hospital’s urgent care centre with symptoms of mental health issues every month, with a number of them requiring urgent care.

“Priority must be given to rural areas that have evidence of high stress and high need, and we’re clearly one of those,” he said.

For more on this story see the Front Page of The Advertiser, Friday, July 19

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