Council provides lifeline to community mental health service

Redland City Council has provided a lifeline for a local mental health community organisation by opening the door for it to move into a new operating base.

Mayor Karen Williams said the Bayside Initiatives Group (BIG) would move from an industrial shed to a vacant community facility at Winter Memorial Park, on Mount Cotton Road, Capalaba.

“BIG has been operating under a cloud as a result of funding changes in the community services sector, putting a unique local service supporting upwards of 800 residents a year at imminent risk of service closure,” Cr Williams said.

“Today’s decision by Council to hand the keys under a one-year lease to BIG will help greatly in its continuing role to deliver mental health support services to Redlands Coast residents.”

Cr Williams said she had met with representatives of BIG after learning of their need for a new home.

“I met with BIG and Council officers to discuss how we could help after BIG reached out looking for help and I am pleased Council has been able to step in and assist,” she said.

Division 9 Councillor Paul Gleeson said BIG had played an integral role in the mental health and wellbeing of Redlands Coast residents for more than 20 years.

“They are the last and only service of this kind on Redlands Coast and the first fully consumer-run organisation in Queensland,” he said.

“BIG offers a critical link in the local service sector, addressing service gaps between clinical services and case management.

“Council agreeing to embed social services in the vacant community facility in Winter Memorial Park will help to address service gaps, expand generalist counselling services and provide seamless referral pathways into the funded service sector.”

Cr Williams said BIG was an award-winning organisation, being a two-time winner of the Earl Dues Award – the highest national award bestowed during Australian Mental Health Week.

“Larger funded organisations use BIG’s services and facilities on a day-to-day basis, so many people will benefit from it continuing to deliver its unique services, support and outreach programs,” she said.

“This will ensure that BIG is provided with a secure operating base to recalibrate their services to respond to community needs in the face of an uncertain social service funding environment from government.”

The Winter Memorial Park facility has been vacant since July 2018, when YourTown, which had used it as a base for more than a decade, vacated it.

The centre – then located in Cleveland – had been gifted to Council by Redlands RSL.

It had previously been used as a support venue for Vietnam veterans and later as a learning centre for youth by BoysTown after the building was relocated to Capalaba.