Justine Wilkinson’s daughter took her own life after the Barrett centre closed. Photo: ABC
Justine Wilkinson is the outspoken mother of one of the three teenagers who took their lives in 2014 after the former Queensland government closed the state’s sole live-in adolescent mental health centre.
Ms Wilkinson said alternative adolescent mental health care for teenagers was still not available in Queensland.
Three former patients of the Barrett Adolescent Centre killed themselves in the months after its closure. Photo: Michelle Smith
The present Labor government said it was waiting on the recommendations of the commission of inquiry into the decision to close the Barrett Adolescent Centre at Wacol in January 2014, before deciding if – or where – it would build a replacement mental health facility for teenagers.
“Parents haven’t heard anything new,” Ms Wilkinson said.
Some teenagers with severe mental health issues attend a special school on Brisbane’s southside, after the closure of the school at Wacol’s Barrett Centre.
Ms Wilkinson said parents had recently started contacting the medical director of Queensland’s Child and Youth Mental Health Service, Dr Stephen Stathis, with their concerns.
“They are saying, ‘This child now needs help immediately’,” she said.
“They are saying, ‘You need to get help out immediately’.
“Those services are still not there, and the school will tell you the same.”
Fairfax Media has published details from briefing papers to then Queensland Health director-general Ian Maynard telling him on November 25, 2013, that replacement mental health care for teenagers would not be ready for 12 months, two months before closing the Barrett Adolescent Centre, Queensland’s only live-in youth psychiatric centre.
That departmental briefing note was required to be given to former health minister Lawrence Springborg by November 26, 2013.
Mr Springborg closed the health facility in late January 2014.
Ms Wilkinson said she was not surprised the advice was contained in the departmental briefing note.
“It was obvious that there were not services available,” she said.
“Because right up to the very end they were fishing around trying to find services for kids and they didn’t have them.”
In April 2015 plans were announced for two new live-in mental health services for adolescents – each with four beds – to be opened in Townsville.
Ms Wilkinson said parents understood the government was waiting for the recommendations of the commission of inquiry into the decision to close the Barrett centre.
“I think they are going to build a new centre, that’s what they promised,” she said.
“But … I haven’t heard anything more about it.”
A spokesman for Health Minister Cameron Dick said Queensland Health was waiting to evaluate the recommendations of the commission of inquiry before deciding where and what new services would be provided.