Michelle Lensink

Inquiry into use of hostels

The State Liberals have begun moves to refer the Rann Government’s deplorable practice of using backpacker hostels to house mental health patients to a parliamentary inquiry.

Shadow Mental Health Minister Michelle Lensink announced the inquiry after meeting with the SA Backpackers Industry Association today.

“The Backpacker Association is clearly concerned at the Government’s practice of placing mental health patients in their hostels,” Ms Lensink asid.

“Hostel staff work in the tourism industry – not mental health.

“They are skilled hospitality workers but are untrained for the demanding and complex task of caring for mental health patients.

“I will be referring the practice of using backpacker hostels to house mental health patients to a broader inquiry into the sale of Glenside Hospital.”

The killing of 22-year-old West Australian backpacker Toby Garratt has highlighted South Australia’s ongoing mental health crisis.

Acting Mental Health Minister Jay Weatherill today admitted on radio that he did not know the number of patients using backpacker hostels.

“That is not good enough,” Ms Lensink said.

“The State Opposition has received credible reports that between 20 to 30 mentally ill patients are being left to fend for themselves in hostels and unsupported accommodation.

“We need an inquiry to confirm these figures and the wider practice of caring for the most vulnerable in our society.”

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