Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service to close in Bayswater after funding cut

DYHS Autumn Centre clients Ian Gore, Barbara Sturt and Deloras Dingo.
DYHS Autumn Centre clients Ian Gore, Barbara Sturt and Deloras Dingo.

DERBARL Yerrigan Health Service will vacate its Bayswater home in June, after failing to secure appropriate State Government funding.

The service, located at the Elizabeth Hansen Autumn Centre, has offered accommodation and support to seriously ill Aboriginal patients across WA for almost 20 years.

Chairwoman Jackie Oakley said management had been in discussions with the WA Country Health Service (WACHS) about a range of options.

Ms Oakley said the Board decided to relinquish control of the operation.

“Sadly, we have been unable to secure appropriate funding from the State Government to continue to operate the Elizabeth Hansen Autumn Centre and have made the tough decision to relinquish our service role and hand the facility back to the State,” she said.

“This decision has not been made lightly, but without a funding commitment of at least $675,000 a year, which equates to $85 per person, per night, we cannot sustain our position as a service provider.”

Last month, Health Minister Roger Cook said the WACHS would provide a further grant to enable the centre to operate beyond March 31.

In November 2018, WACHS provided one-off funding of about $80,000 to cover the cost of six beds for six months.

However, Ms Oakley said the WACHS agreed to an exit grant of $250,000 to cover operating costs until June 30 and to assist in the hand back of the service.

“WACHS will then assume full responsibility as the service provider,” she said.

“We are disappointed that the WACHS has not seen fit to stump up appropriate funds for Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service to continue as a service provider, but instead attempted to continue drip-feed funding to us for this important service.

“For this reason, we have no option but to step away from the Elizabeth Hansen Autumn Centre to ensure the future financial viability of the entire Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service and safeguard the many other valuable assets and services we provide to the Noongar community.

“We remain committed to the welfare of patients in our care and will work with WACHS to ensure there is minimal upheaval and distress to residents as Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service transitions out of the centre.”

UPDATE 08/04/19 9.56 AM

A WACHS spokeswoman said the service would ensure the centre remained open and accessible to Aboriginal patients travelling to Perth.

“In addition to ensuring that EHAC remains operational, the WA Country Health Service continues to offer further support through additional services such as the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme (PATS) and Meet and Greet Services,” she said.

“In December 2014, the Holman Review undertook an assessment of a range of Aboriginal health programs and in instances where initiatives were deemed to be underperforming, funding to the WA Country Health Service was reduced – including that provided to Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service Aboriginal Corporation (DYHSAC) for services at EHAC.

“Since this time, the WA Country Health Service has continued to contribute $260,000 to $300,000 annually to EHAC’s operational costs through PATS.

“This has been further supplemented by operational grants totalling $79,574.

“Most recently, the WA Country Health Service offered DYHSAC supplementary funding of $250,000 to support the service throughout transition.”