City News

Homeless clinic holding out hope on Federal funding

BY CHRISTOPHER HARRIS

A medical centre for homeless people in Darlinghurst whose funding was by the Federal Government last year is holding out until after the election before it closes its doors for good.

Deputy Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek said the Labor Party would reinstate its funding to The Haymarket Clinic if it won office at the July federal election.

Speaking from the homeless centre last Friday, Ms Plibersek said that it provided a valuable service for the local homeless population.

“To close the doors here would leave many hundreds of people much worse off.”

“We know that the people who turn up here day after day are some of the most vulnerable people who live in our community. They are people who suffer homeless, and drug and alcohol problems, mental health problems. They are also at risk of exclusion, of social isolation, and loneliness.

Ms Plibersek said that she had become involved with the clinic after being a resident of Wooloomooloo and had seen first hand the difference it had made to the local homeless population.

“They would end up in hospital emergency in some cases, I don’t frankly know where they would go. They might end up in the corrective system, they might end up in mental health services, or they might just get lost on the streets and they might actually lose their lives.”

“This is a lifieline for so many people, and the fact that a service that has been running for 40 years might close its doors because of the Liberal’s health cuts, breaks my heart.”

While there are many services in the inner city for homeless people, the Haymarket Clinic is unique as it provides long term medical care.

For many homeless people, simply turning up at a medical centre is not an option. Over the past 40 years, the benefits of having specialised medical treatment for people who also have high rates of drug and alcohol abuse problems, as well as mental health problems has taken pressure of the public health system.

The clinic estimates that is helps 1,200 local homeless people every year.

Homelessness exacerbates health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, as well as taking its toll on mental health. Not having a refrigerator to store medicines can also increase health problems.

Chairman of the board, Kevin, said that it did not make sensible economic sense to close the centre.

“For every dollar that is spent on our service, we save the government a further at least two dollars.”

“It is all very well to say Accident  and Emergency will pick up the slack because they won’t,” he said.

“Our population is really not acceptable to the average Accident and Emergency service. They’re a nuisance, they’re put down at the bottom of the queue , in fact some of them they are just told, they will call security, and they do and they’re thrown out.”

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