Two western NSW Federal ministers have revealed their support towards a new mental health project that Lifeline Central West is hoping to get up and running.
The organisation developed the Yarnup Confidential strategy and is requesting $2.5 million per year over five years from the Federal and State government, to employ and train Aboriginal staff.
Approximately 70 per cent of the annual funding will be applied to full employment and training costs. Lifeline Central West executive director Alex Ferguson previously told the Western Magazine that it was “time leaders and the wider community got on board with the strategy”.
Federal Member for Calare Andrew Gee said he fully supports Lifeline Central West and the Yarnup Confidential proposal.
“I have met with Alex on a number of occasions and also arranged a meeting between him and me, and the Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, in Canberra,” he said. “I will continue to work closely with Alex to try to secure funding for what I believe is a very worthwhile and important initiative.”
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This is not the first time Mr Ferguson has tried to get Yarnup Confidential up and running. In 2015 he wrote to Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion to set out the strategy.
Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton said Mr Ferguson approached him in 2015 with his letter to Minister Scullion.
“I have made representation on behalf of Lifeline Central West to several Ministers since then which has facilitated meetings that provided Mr Ferguson with an opportunity to pitch his proposal to relevant Ministers, their Advisers and Departmental staff,” Mr Coulton said.
“This is a positive strategy which aligns with existing work in place to help address these issues.”
Lifeline received $33 million in funding from the federal 2018/19 budget earlier this year.
Mr Coulton said Mr Ferguson commented that this funding would allow Lifeline “to put on paid telephone counsellors to fill gaps in the daily rosters when volunteers were unavailable.”
Mr Coulton also said Mr Ferguson was encouraged to pursue funding opportunities in August 2017 following meetings with the Department of Health.
“Mental health initiatives are commissioned by Primary Health Networks through the Department of Health,” Mr Coulton said.
“It is unclear whether the proposal would be suitable for funding through the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Indigenous Affairs portfolio as it is designed to cater for and is being promoted to provide assistance for people other than the Indigenous population.
“Mr Ferguson was encouraged by my office to pursue further conversations with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in regard to this in late 2017.”