Health services ‘inadequately funded’

Geoff VivianGeraldton Guardian
Suicide prevention researcher Gerry Georgatos said Yamaji people had five times the avoidable death rate of other Mid West residents.
Camera IconSuicide prevention researcher Gerry Georgatos said Yamaji people had five times the avoidable death rate of other Mid West residents. Credit: Gerry Georgatos

A key figure in Yamaji health services is calling for more mental health professionals to service the Mid West and Gascoyne after research showed the Yamaji suicide rate to be Australia’s highest.

“It is devastatingly disappointing that not even one per cent of State health funding for the region has been dedicated to the region’s Yamaji people,” Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Services chief executive Deborah Woods said.

“We are struggling with one part-time psychologist only for the whole of the Murchison-Gascoyne.

“We are calling on the State and Commonwealth to support the peak health service of the Yamaji people to each provide funding for two full-time psychologists and at least six full-time Aboriginal mental health practitioners.”

Member for Geraldton Ian Blayney said Member for Kimberley Josie Farrer had tabled a grievance in Parliament about mental health services yesterday and he would be seeking an opportunity to do the same this year.

“I’m quite concerned about the suicide rate,” he said. “I don’t know if there is something that has triggered this or this is becoming the new normal.”

Their comments came after National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project co-ordinator Gerry Georgatos found Yamaji people had a suicide rate of 87.5 per 100,000 so far this year.

Mr Georgatos, who is also a suicide prevention researcher, said 58 per cent of Mid West residents died of avoidable causes before age 75.

“The avoidable mortality rate for Yamaji people is five times higher than for the rest of the Mid West’s population,” he said.

“These deaths could have been avoided through the better use of primary prevention and treatment interventions.

“GRAMS should be proportionally funded five times the rest of the demography and then that’d be health equality.”

Members for the Agricultural Region Darren West and Laurie Graham were unavailable for comment.

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