Mental health workers strike

Wednesday 24 Mar 2021

Originally published in The ABC 

Meanwhile, more than 100 mental health workers in Perth took part in a strike today in order to secure more funding for child mental health services. 

Clinical psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists from eight services took part in the industrial action, along with staff from the Perth Children's Hospital mental health ward.

Organisers said most of the strikes were being done out of the media's sight because employees feared for their jobs.

The strike follows ongoing complaints about a lack of support for children and young people with mental illness, plus a major increase in waiting times.

The issue has led to a major increase in waiting times.

The under-funded and under-resourced system was also blamed for letting down a teenager who died from self-inflicted injuries in July 2020, according to WA's chief psychiatrist. 

Health Services Union WA secretary Naomi McCrae said a report into Kate Savage's death made seven recommendations, but only one had been actioned.

"One of the recommendations was an immediate uplift in staff and that has not occurred, and we cannot wait until the end of another review for just staff," she said.

She said mental health workers feared more children would die.

At the Swan Valley child and adolescent mental health service in Perth's east, where workers walked off the job, Ms McCrae said in March alone, staff handled 92 referrals.

"That is too much for this service to meet," she said.

Ms McCrae said taking industrial action was the "last resort," but workers were desperate for action to be taken.

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