Shellharbour Hospital mental health services status disputed

The Health Services Union says mental health services at Shellharbour Hospital have been downgraded, forcing the transfer of high-risk patients to Sydney.

HSU regional organiser Andrew Gorman said the changes meant there were now no high observation beds between Sutherland and the Victorian border.

Mr Gorman said despite the union’s call for more high observation beds at Shellharbour Hospital’s Eloura West facility, it had been downgraded to a general observation unit last week.

That meant the most severely behaviourally disturbed patients would now have to be transported to Sutherland Hospital or beyond for a higher level of observation, he said.

“Around six years ago when the mental health unit at Shellharbour was a separate unit, Eloura West was a high dependency unit where patients were under 24-hour watch,” he said.

“When the mental health unit came under the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD), Eloura West was downgraded to a high observation unit where patients were checked every 15 minutes.

“Now it has been further downgraded to a general observation unit where patients are normally not checked for anywhere between 45 minutes and one hour.”

However, a spokesperson for the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) denied the union’s claims.

“There has been no recent change to the level of service provided in the Eloura West unit,” the spokesperson said. “And the level of observation has always been determined by a person’s individual care plan.”

The unit has been in the spotlight since the alleged murder of 47-year-old patient Joseph Gumley by another patient on July 31 this year.

The unit was temporarily closed and remains the subject of police, NSW Health and internal investigations.

It was partially reopened in mid-August with six of the nine beds available for patients.

On Tuesday, Shellharbour MP Anna Watson, Kiama MP Gareth Ward and South Coast MP Shelley Hancock met with ISLHD management for an update on the situation.

Ms Watson said while the meeting was informative, management had not been able to give a time frame for the reopening of all beds.

“I will be writing to the Minister for Mental Health [Jai Rowell] and demanding the three beds be reopened immediately to help cater for mental health issues in this community,” she said.

“I will also be calling for this government to open up inpatient services in the Shoalhaven.”

Mr Gorman said lack of high observation beds meant mental health patients had to access services in Sydney, which inconvenienced both them and their families.

He said high suicide rates and an ice epidemic throughout the region meant there was more demand for high observation beds, or a return to a high dependency unit.

People with mental illness have access to a broad range of services on the South Coast according to an Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District spokesperson.

These include early intervention, emergency care, assessment, rehabilitation and residential facilities.

There are specialist services for children, adolescents, youth, adults and older people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and those from non-English speaking backgrounds.

The mental health facilities include:

■Community residential facilities at Dapto and the newly opened sub-acute mental health unit at Shoalhaven Hospital, which provides a short-stay community-based residential service.

■At Wollongong Hospital there is a general adult inpatient unit, a psychiatric emergency care centre and a dedicated inpatient unit for older people.

■On the Shellharbour Hospital campus there are four mental health units; one observation unit, two general inpatient facilities and an adolescent psychiatric care unit. There is also a rehabilitation unit.

■The mental health service also provides a comprehensive range of non-inpatient services in both outpatient and community settings, including community mental health services and support services.

■There are also specific programs providing services to consumers, family and carer support and health promotion activities.

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Rain would help: Nufarm

“The outlook for the 2015 financial year is spring and summer rainfall plus initial benefits from the restructuring will drive earnings recovery in Australia”: Doug Rathbone.AGRICULTURAL chemicals and seeds supplier Nufarm is banking on spring rains to help boost its profits.

Rain boosts demand for Nufarm’s crop protection products, which include weed, insect and fungus killers.

Nufarm also expects that a reorganisation of its Australian operations, which began in March and aims to lift profits and cut costs, will produce benefits in 2015.

“The outlook for the 2015 financial year is spring and summer rainfall plus initial benefits from the restructuring will drive earnings recovery in Australia,” Nufarm managing director Doug Rathbone announced yesterday.

Nufarm’s business in Australia in fiscal 2014 generated flat sales and lower underlying earnings due to dry conditions and tough competition.

Mr Rathbone cautioned that in Australia nothing was ever perfect in farming.

In some parts of Australia now, marginal crops were being cut for hay, but other crops looked terrific.

“We need a bit more rain in the north. Most of the crop areas in Australia would like a little bit more rain before December so they can finish the crop off nicely,” he said.

“It’s varied, but we’ve got a better year on our hands now than we’ve had for the last two.”

Nufarm yesterday unveiled a 53 per cent fall in full year profit to $37.7 million for the year to July 31.

The result was weighed down by hefty costs from restructuring its Australian and New Zealand businesses.

But excluding those costs, underlying net profit rose 4 per cent to $86.4 million.

Nufarm said dry conditions in Australia and a long winter in the United States had reduced demand for its products and put pressure on margins.

But Nufarm’s South American business performed well, especially in Brazil and Argentina.


Matt Maguire to play on with Brisbane

Matt Maguire has re-signed with the Lions.

SOUTH-WEST export Matt Maguire’s AFL career will extend into a 14th season.

Maguire has signed a one-year contract extension with the Brisbane Lions for 2015.

The 30-year-old, who was aligned to South Warrnambool as a junior, is the only remaining former Rooster at the Gabba after the retirements of Jonathan Brown and Brent Moloney this season.

Maguire, who was part of TAC Cup side Geelong Falcons, played 13 games for the Lions in 2014, providing invaluable experience in a young back line.

Maguire has played 69 games with the Lions over the past five seasons after being recruited from St Kilda during the 2009 trade period.

He has played a total of 168 games, having made his debut with St Kilda in 2002.

Lions general manager of football operations Dean Warren said Maguire was an invaluable member.

“Matt is a fantastic personality to have around the club and the experience he brings to our young group is invaluable,” he said.

“We are really pleased that Matt will be going around again in 2015 and there is no doubt that the likes of Darcy Gardiner and Justin Clarke will benefit immensely from having someone with Matt’s experience alongside them in the back line.”

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Make A Wish fraudster has jail suspended

Thomas Alexius Vandermey had pleaded not guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court to 10 charges of attempting to or dishonestly obtaining donations for the Make A Wish Foundation.A MACARTHUR man who posed as a bogus fund-raiser to collect donations for a well-known children’s charity has been handed a suspended jail sentence.

Thomas Alexius Vandermey had pleaded not guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court to 10 charges of attempting to or dishonestly obtaining donations for the Make A Wish Foundation.

Vandermey, 53, of Ardonachy Street, was convicted and given a four-month jail sentence, suspended for 12 months.

The charges related to his illegal fund-raising in Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Condah, where he collected a total of $310 from the public.

Magistrate Peter Mellas found all charges proven.

He said the offending breached people’s trust as Vandermey had represented himself as an accredited collector.

Mr Mellas said the message had to be sent to the community that anyone who dishonestly raised funds faced the prospect of time in jail. The magistrate said Vandermey had been vague during a 700-question interview with police, claiming he had registered as a collector but had never actually collected money for Make A Wish.

He also told police that people must have confused him with someone else or that they had his fund-raising mixed up with his collections for Relay For Life.

Mr Mellas said Vandermey’s interview with police raised a number of credibility issues and he did not accept the accused man’s evidence.

He said local and national Make A Wish organisers gave evidence Vandermey was never an accredited fund-raiser and had not left money at their offices in Melbourne.

In evidence, Vandermey said he signed up to the Make A Wish Foundation website and followed through exactly as he had done with the Cancer Council’s Relay For Life for the past seven years.

He said he had attempted to find a group walking from Melbourne to Portland for the foundation and tried to get in touch with an organiser, leaving a message, but no one ever got back to him.

Vandermey said he then went to the foundation’s Melbourne headquarters and dropped off money at the front desk.

“I was double-parked. I ran in and dropped off the money and left,” Vandermey said.

“Information in the envelope contained the names of the people I collected from.”

Vandermey said he later received an email thanking him for his generosity.

“I thought ‘well that’s OK, they got the money’. Then I heard a scream about bogus collectors,” he said.

“I thought I was doing the right thing. I’ve suffered ever since.”

In cross-examination, Senior Constable Nathan Brown asked why Vandermey had double parked before allegedly dropping off the fund-raising money.

Vandermey said no parking spots had been available and he had to get to his work for a private contractor in Ringwood.

Vandermey refused to name the contractor, saying he didn’t want his employer harassed.

The magistrate warned Vandermey to name the contractor or face the possibility of being held in contempt, but he still refused. Senior Constable Brown also questioned why Vandermey had not told police during an interview he had dropped off the funds raised in Melbourne.

Vandermey said he couldn’t find the walkers on the road between Melbourne and Portland but denied he stole any funds he collected. “I didn’t need it at the time. I had inherited a heap of money,” he said.

Vandermey has a number of prior court appearances, mainly for street offences.

Vandermey said he had been involved with Relay For Life for seven or eight years and had volunteered with primary schools and sporting clubs.

He said the mother of his two daughters walked out when they were toddlers and he raised the girls largely by himself, but he suffered a heart attack in April this year.

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Hawks to harness 2012 heartbreak, says Lewis

Warrnambool export Jordan Lewis says the Hawks will use the heartbreak of their 2012 grand final loss to Sydney as motivation for Saturday’s rematch.JORDAN Lewis plans to harness the heartbreak of grand final day two seasons ago when Hawthorn chases a slice of club history against Sydney on Saturday.

The Hawks and Swans clash in the 2014 grand final at the MCG, a repeat of the 2012 decider which Alastair Clarkson’s men lost in agonising fashion.

Lewis, whose side won all the key statistics but lost 14.7 (91) to 11.15 (81), said the defeat had not been a talking point behind closed doors this week.

But the Warrnambool-raised onballer believed the players who remained — 17 if Cyril Rioli and Brad Sewell earn recalls —would use the result as motivation. “We haven’t actually spoken about it yet but I imagine the players in their own time would be thinking about it,” Lewis told The Standard yesterday.

“No one wants to experience a loss on grand final day. You don’t have next week to redeem yourself.

“I imagine some of the guys would use that as some sort of motivation. I feel sick in the stomach when I think about that game.

“If you’re ever out on the field and you’re stuffed and can’t be bothered running, you think about those five minutes after the grand final and that gets you through.”

Lewis, 28, said the loss proved the football adage that anything can happen in grand finals.

He highlighted the 2013 grand final, which Hawthorn won against Fremantle despite being under siege at various stages, as further proof.

“We sat down after the game (in 2012) and every indicator we take we were in front. You sit there and think, ‘how come we didn’t win?’,” he said

“For a long time they had a run-on and managed to kick two goals late which put them in front. We ran out of time to run them down.

“Then you look at last year, we didn’t win as many indicators as we would’ve liked but we still won the game.

“That sort of stuff goes out the window come grand final day. It’s a tight contest. It’s a different game to normal. It’s a fierce battle.”

Lewis has declared himself fit for the grand final, despite suffering a corked thigh in the heart-stopping preliminary triumph against Port Adelaide.

Opening up on the injury, which forced coaching staff to substitute him in the third quarter, he said he was confident of being 100 per cent fit by Saturday.

“I’m a pretty optimistic sort of person. Those sort of thoughts (about missing the grand final) didn’t creep into my mind at any stage,” he said.

Lewis said he was attempting to remain as calm as possible this week.

“It’s funny. Coming into a grand final, if you think about it too much early on in the week, you can drain yourself out,” he said.

“I’ve learnt over the years not to get too excited too early. There are certain things in the week that are different but a lot of it remains the same.

“Everything done at the club is the same as a normal week, except our Thursday training sessions — there’s going to be 10,000 people there.

“That and the grand final parade are two really different things. We tell our players to enjoy them, don’t shut them out. You might not get this experience again.”

First bounce in the Swans-Hawks showdown is at 2.30pm on Saturday.

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