Push for support services

Emily SharpSound Telegraph

More support for people living with autism and the provision of mental health services have been identified as the two main priorities for Baldivis, according to a community group.

Baldivis Rotarians have recently surveyed their members, with two main areas of need highlighted for the rapidly growing suburb.

Some mental health services are based in Rockingham, with others headquartered in Perth, while Autism WA’s nearest centre is in Fremantle.

Baldivis Rotary Club president Leanne Knowler said she was not surprised further support in the mental health sector had topped the list.

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“It not only affects the people suffering from mental health issues but it can impact their family and friends also,” she said.

“This is why it is felt as an important issue in the community because mental health doesn’t just have influence on the person with the issues.”

Rockingham mother Karen Rattley, whose daughter has autism, said there were hardly any local services to support her child.

“Before my daughter started school we travelled to Booragoon once a week — it would be great to see a group that could work on social skills locally,” she said.

Nicola Franks, who is the mother of autistic twin boys, agreed there was a need for improved services in the area.

“I would like to see a sporting group move into the area, because we find there is nothing for the boys to get involved in to keep them busy because they are very active boys so they need something to help them burn their energy,” she said.

Baldivis MLA Reece Whitby said he would take the information to the relevant Government ministers.

“Baldivis is still a rapidly growing suburb with a high proportion of young families so it’s only natural that there is likely to be a higher-than-average need for services and support for children with autism and other child health issues,” he said.

“I have a close working relationship with both the health minister and the disability services minister and I will make sure they know what the requirements are in Baldivis and across our southern corridor.”

City of Rockingham Mayor Barry Sammels said there was a variety of support groups available to people and families in Baldivis.

“The City is very well equipped with mental health services to provide a variety of support options for people experiencing mental health concerns,” he said. “Raising the awareness and educating the community of what services are already available, and how to access these services is most important.”

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