Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, has called on the Palaszczuk Government to restore funding to the Tully Support Centre to provide generalist counselling services to the community in the Tully district affected by the incursion of Panama Disease Tropical Race 4 (TR4).
Speaking in the Queensland Parliament, Mr Cripps said in the wake of the March 2015 TR4 outbreak, the Tully Support Centre service had been used heavily, but the Palaszczuk Government had discontinued funding as of 30 June 2016, despite the community need continuing.
“The President and the Manager of the Tully Support Centre wrote to the Minister for Communities on 12 July 2016, but are yet to receive a response, so the Tully Support Centre has had to try and maintain these counselling services without any financial resources” said Mr Cripps.
“While the Palaszczuk Government has supported Biosecurity Queensland to respond to the biosecurity issues relating to the outbreak of TR4, it appears the social and emotional well-being of the local community is less of a priority – this is unacceptable and irresponsible” he said.
“The Minister for Communities must respond to this issue directly – she has had all the information she needs for over a month now – while TR4 is a silent and invisible threat to the Queensland banana industry, it is a very real and present one for community in the Tully district”.
Mr Cripps said the failure of the Palaszczuk Government to maintain funding for the counselling service was contrary to the advice provided by its own Social Response Group within the Queensland Government Panama Disease Taskforce, which recommended the service continue.
“The Tully Support Centre is a trusted and reputable provider of non-clinical mental health services to our local community, having done so with distinction following the severe devastation of Cyclone Yasi in 2011, so I call on the Minister for Communities to act and act now”.
“Imagine banana farming families with this level of uncertainty constantly looming over them – having already had the emotional stress of being wiped out twice in the last decade by cyclones Larry and Yasi – with this new threat putting at risk everything they’ve worked hard for”.