Agriculture Minister and Member for Maranoa David Littleproud with Kingaroy Hospital Acting Medical Superintendent Julianne Dore and Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN CEO Lucille Chalmers

May 3, 2022

Adult mental health services in the South Burnett region have received a $3.4 million boost from the Federal Government.

The funding was announced by Member for Maranoa David Littleproud in Kingaroy on Tuesday – and the good news is it does not depend on the outcome of the upcoming Federal Election as it’s already locked into the Budget.

Minister Littleproud announced the “Head to Health” adult mental health satellite service alongside representatives from the Darling Downs and West Moreton Primary Health Network (PHN), which will administer the funding over the next four years.

“Head to Health satellite services … are designed to provide a welcoming, low stigma, ‘no wrong door’, entry point for adults to access mental health information, services and supports,” Minister Littleproud said.

Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN CEO Lucille Chalmers said the service would be “co-designed” by the community and existing service providers.

It will work with adults with mild to moderate needs, but referrals could be made for more intensive mental health care or social supports if needed.

The aim is to develop a partnership between primary care providers, working in closely with GPs.

“We know what people are looking for is care that is connected and they need that local system to work effectively,” Ms Chalmers said.

Part of the PHN’s work would be to design the “service model”, but there would be “definitely a bricks and mortar” location, at a site to be determined.

“What people will see is a multi-disciplinary team so it won’t just be psychologists. We will have a service that cuts across the variety of needs that people are looking for,” Ms Chalmers said.

“They can move seamlessly from one allied (health service) to another. All of that will be determined through the design process.”

Minister Littleproud said the PHN would be arranging the co-ordination and collaboration.

“Some of those more acute services may be external here, but you need someone on the ground to be able to help, not just the GP,” he said.

The services would be free and would begin this month.

“These services will provide that much-needed support, as well as creating a safe space for Australians experiencing high levels of distress or who are at heightened risk of suicide,” he said.

Minister Littleproud made the announcement while visiting local primary healthcare provider, Taabinga Family Practice.

Dr Emma Leu-Marshall, from Taabinga, is a member of the local Kingaroy Stakeholder Consultative Committee, a group of health care professionals who have been working alongside the South Burnett Regional Council to co-ordinate a response to healthcare needs.

Ms Chalmers said the funding was important to address some of the significant mental health care challenges in the region, with the South Burnett’s psychological distress and suicide rates well above the Queensland averages.

“The PHN has been working with representatives from Kingaroy Hospital, General Practice, Allied Health and Council to ensure services are co-ordinated and funded to meet the needs of the local community,” Ms Chalmers said.

“This announcement of a local Head to Health Centre will provide a strong foundation for mental health services going forward.”

Last Wednesday, South Burnett mayor Brett Otto told his top funding priority for the South Burnett was for mental health services.

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Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington

On Wednesday, Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington welcomed the announcement.

“Unfortunately, our South Burnett community suffers from the impact of limited access to mental health services, and the highest suicide rate in Queensland,” Mrs Frecklington said.

“The announcement of $3.4 million in funding for a ‘Head to Health’ mental health satellite service in the South Burnett is extremely welcome news.

“I have been working with David Littleproud for several years to advocate for this type of service and I would like to thank the Federal Government for recognising the level of need in our area and making this significant investment.

“As was highlighted recently by service providers and members of our community at the Qld Parliamentary Mental Health Select Committee hearing in Kingaroy, what we need is timely, face-to-face support for people needing mental health care.

“There is no doubt that access to a ‘Head to Health’ satellite service right here in the South Burnett will be of huge benefit for our community and provide a pathway of care for people experiencing moderate to severe levels of mental illness.”


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Member for Maranoa David Littleproud and Blackbutt and Benarkin Aged Care Association president Jeff Connor cut the ribbon to officially open the two units (Photo: Maranoa Electorate Office)

During his visit to the South Burnett, Minister Littleproud also officially opened two disability-friendly aged care units in Blackbutt.

He said the project was a perfect example of the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) in action, with the units now operating successfully and providing much-needed support to local residents and their families.

Blackbutt and Benarkin Aged Care Association president Jeff Connor said the units were already tenanted.

“The project was completed back in December of 2019,” he said. “However COVID restrictions, and the Blackbutt Aged Care Association’s focus on aged residents’ health, has prevented an opening of the facility being able to occur until Tuesday,” Mr Connor said.

“The grant of $204,740 was awarded to construct two disability-friendly, two-bedroom dwellings as part of the Scott Haven Independent Living Complex.

Mr Connor said the units were built with local tradespeople, materials and suppliers as a focus.

“The building contract was awarded to local builder Ian Gilliland Homes Pty Ltd, and at least 10 FTE employees and independent contractors were employed as a result of this project.” he said.

He said the association had now put in an application to Round 6 of the BBRF for two more units to be built on the site.

“If (this) application for two more units is awarded, that would mean up to four more aged residents could live their life out in Blackbutt with assisted living, rather than being forced to move away from their home community,” he said.

“Prior to the Blackbutt Aged Care Association … Blackbutt did not have any publicly available aged care accommodation for aged living. Now we have up to nine places and a plan for many more.

“We are thankful for the commitment from the Australian Government to our regional community.”

Mr Littleproud said BBRF was about strengthening local economies, driving much-needed job creation and delivering better facilities.

Under Round 5 of the BBRF, the Federal Government committed $300 million to support 298 projects across regional Australia, estimated to create 9900 jobs during the project period, taking the government’s total support through the BBRF to $1.38 billion across nearly 1300 projects.

David Littleproud, Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington and Jeff Connor with members of the Blackbutt and Benarkin Aged Care Association at the official opening (Photo: Maranoa Electorate Office)

Anderssons Fruit Market for quality fruits and vegetables


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