Thank you to the Border Mail for covering this event, and thanks Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare for visiting Albury and the Border to hear about the service delivery challenges and opportunities.
Children, family welfare forum told of Albury-Wodonga care woes
By Ted Howes
March 25 2023
Family welfare agencies in Albury-Wodonga have been forced to send children with mental health issues to Melbourne to obtain the help they need, a forum was told yesterday.
Representatives from several Border welfare agencies met to discuss ways to tackle the growing problem of care for children, homeless people, and vulnerable families in the wake of several crises including bushfires, the COVID pandemic and recent floods.
Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare chief executive officer Deb Tsorbaris said kids in Albury-Wodonga were more vulnerable than many other rural communities due to “confusing rules that changed as you crossed the Murray River”.
“One thing that came up really strongly at the forum was the lack of child youth mental health services and that agencies are having to send children down to Melbourne, to places like Box Hill hospital,” Ms Tsorbaris said.
“I’m talking about the not-for-profit agencies having to fight for a bed, or send a child down to Melbourne to get a mental health bed.
“They (participants) said we need these services in our community, we want to have those services, this is a community with a strong sense of working together.
“I don’t think people fully appreciate the impact that cross border issues have, you know, you’ve got two distinct governments working along the border here.”
Ms Tsorbaris said homelessness was another common thread of discussion at the forum held in Albury.
“There’s been a big rise in homelessness in this part of the world, and I know that Junction Support Services are a big provider here of youth homelessness programs,” she said. “State governments need to do more.”