Counselling cuts an ‘attack on vulnerable’
Maitland residents will be some of the hardest hit by changes to the Hunter’s community counselling services and the result could end in tragedy, the city’s Labor candidate has warned.
SPEAKING OUT: Jenny Aitchison.
Jenny Aitchison – who undertook postgraduate studies in counselling – has stepped forward to champion the cause for those who she said would suffer from an overhaul of Hunter New England Health counselling services.
From next month, Hunter Medicare Local – along with non-government organisations – will be responsible for providing general counselling services across the Lower Hunter.
As a result, 30 jobs will go.
“The NSW government’s cuts to counselling services are yet another attack on the most vulnerable people in our community by this Liberal government,” Ms Aitchison said.
“Community counselling services have a vital role to play in helping people to access essential and sometimes life-saving services fromcommunity health.”
Ms Aitchison said the cuts had no regard for the complex issues that faced people using community counselling services.
“Counselling is more than a cup of tea and a chat,” she said.
“A member of the police association last week told me that domestic violence and mental health issues are the most challenging areas in policing in the Maitland area.
“It is only a matter of time before we see the ultimate impact of these cuts as people start to run out of options . . . and it will be tragic.”
Ms Aitchison said an online petition calling for Hunter New England Health to reinstate its full range of counselling services across the region had come as a shock to many outside the department.
“The fact that this petition was also authored by someone under a pseudonym is also indicative of the culture of fear that exists within Hunter New England Health,” she said.
“Of course no one wants to breach patient confidentiality, however I imagine workers are fearful their projects could be targeted if they speak out. I imagine that clients of these services are similarly frightened to speak out.”
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