Mental health facility to go ahead despite community outrage

2 minute read

Mind Australia has confirmed construction will start imminently on the 12-bed facility even though locals are protesting hard.

Mind Australia has confirmed construction will go ahead on its controversial mental health facility in North Torquay, near Geelong despite ongoing backlash from residents concerned about the site’s proximity to the local primary school.

In correspondence with one concerned resident, shared with The Geelong Advertiser, Mind Australia’s executive director for housing strategy Mark Heeney said early works had already begun to prepare the site for the main construction phase, which would go ahead as planned without any modifications or amendments to the facility’s design.

Mr Heeney also shut down the possibility of the facility being relocated to a government-owned parcel of land elsewhere, saying the alternative site was “manifestly unsuitable” for people with mental health challenges.

Residents have been engaged in an ongoing campaign protesting the proposed site for the 12-bed mental health facility since the location and funding for the facility were confirmed in late 2022, including establishing a petition on calling on local council authorities and the government to move the facility “to a more suitable location”.

Liberal MP for Polwarth Richard Riordan began circulating a parliamentary petition in September 2023 calling for the government to work with Mind Australia to relocate the facility as the proposed site “failed to provide an adequate safe outdoor space for residents … and conflicts with agreements homeowners signed when buying into the estate”.

According to Mr Riordan, it was both “inappropriate and disingenuous” of Mind Australia and its partner The Haven Foundation to say the site was an “appropriate” choice for the facility, particularly given the lack of adequate consultation with residents regarding their concerns over the site.

“It’s not consultation, it’s talking at the community,” Mr Riordan told The Geelong Advertiser.

“Not one element has been changed or modified based on community feedback. This facility is a complete over-development, [and] it’s just inappropriate and it is disingenuous to say that it’s appropriate.

“There’s government land sitting vacant around the corner.

“The laws weren’t meant to be abused to build whatever you want, wherever you want.”

HSD reached out to Mind Australia for comment but it had not responded before deadline.

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