Albury brain health centre win

Member for Albury Greg Aplin has welcomed the funding announcement. Picture: DAVID THORPE
Member for Albury Greg Aplin has welcomed the funding announcement. Picture: DAVID THORPE

A MENTAL health “one stop shop” could be up and running in Albury as early as next year.

Member for Albury Greg Aplin yesterday announced the $3 million “Brain Health Centre” would co-locate government and non-government services.

The funds are committed over the next two budgets in what is a regional NSW first.

Mr Aplin said the project aimed to increase convenience and provide intervention before psychiatric hospitalisation was required.

“We’re trying to get the prevention aspect enhanced,” he said.

“I would hope it reduces the amount of people seeking acute care.”

Mr Aplin said Albury had had the highest public participation of all the 2012 NSW suicide prevention forums, which had helped secure the funding.

“It’s the message I’m getting from people who are crying out for help that has brought me to try and do something on their behalf,” he said.

The new centre will provide treatment for issues ranging from depression, anxiety and eating disorders to Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.

Mr Aplin said it would avoid duplication leading to savings, such as rental costs, that could be redirected into services.

“We can condense and concentrate them in the one location so that people visiting or people having outreach can get referrals between those agencies at a seamless fashion,” he said.

This could include a common reception for a client’s first port of call, removing confusion about where to access help.

Mr Aplin said government savings due to increased community use of private services instead of public hadn’t been a consideration.

He said provision of more jobs was an ongoing budgetary issue.

Government providers will include Albury Community Health Centre, which is expected to transfer from Murrumbidgee Health to Albury Wodonga Health next year.

Mr Aplin said he had spoken to Hume Medicare Local and private providers such as St Luke’s Albury.

Meetings to develop the concept will begin in May, with the construction of a new building or the conversion of an existing one possibly taking place next year.

Mr Aplin said his preferred location was Lavington with a range of health services already in the area.

Albury Wodonga Health chief executive Dr Stuart Spring welcomed the announcement, saying it would increase the service’s ability to offer preventive care.