Ballarat organisations miss out on health contracts

BALLARAT health organisations say they are disappointed by a state government decision on local mental health services and are concerned about the effect on their clients. 

Ballarat Community Health, Grampians Community Health and Centacare Ballarat were recently told by the state government they had not been awarded the tender to provide local mental health services.

It is unknown at this stage who will be the new service provider in Ballarat and the Grampians, however clients have been told that the changeover will occur in August this year.

Ballarat Community Health chief executive officer Robyn Reeves said the decision was unsettling for clients. 

She said she was concerned about what impact it would have.

“It’s incredibly difficult for people who are living with a mental illness to need to adjust to that change,” she said.

“We are really worried. We’ve needed to tell our clients that we will not be their service provider and we don’t know who that will be. That is incredibly unsatisfactory.”

Ballarat Community Health runs APROTCH – the Adult Psychiatric Rehabilitation program of the Central Highlands – which provides various programs to support people diagnosed with a serious mental illness.

Centacare Ballarat executive director David Beaver said the agency was disappointed to not be able to continue providing services it had offered for the previous 17 years.

“Our staff now are in the process of talking to our clients and working through what it means for them and reassuring them that they will continue to get a service from someone different,” he said.

It is believed some workers will be made redundant as part of the decision, however both Ballarat Community Health and Centacare Ballarat said they would look to place people in new roles. 

One client of APROTCH, who wrote to The Courier on the basis of anonymity, said they were disgusted by the state government’s decision.

“Why change something that is not broken? APROTCH achieves results,” they wrote.

“I honestly believe the government has got this one totally wrong attacking mental health organisations.”

tom.cowie@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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