Lifeline to stop district suicides

NEEDY Central Queensland teenagers could breathe a sigh of relief yesterday after the State Government threw a lifeline to local suicide prevention program CIRYAR.

The program, run by local group Wahroonga, had been struggling to make ends meet since Canberra withdrew funding in late 2003. It had survived for more than a year through fundraising activities and community donations.

Health Minister Gordon Nuttall promised to fund the program until the end of the year and said Queensland Health staff would work closely with Wahroonga to prepare a business case for long-term funding.

Program manager Barbara Weir said staff were relieved and delighted by yesterday's announcement. "It means we can get back to our core business of helping young people,'' she said.

She said the group had helped 250 at-risk teenagers individually and 1000 through group counselling and school-based programs.

Member for Rockhampton Robert Schwarten praised Mr Nuttall for meeting with CIRYAR before making his decision. "I am thankful that we've got a hands-on Health Minister who came up here, sat down with CIRYAR staff and worked out a solution,'' he said.

But he said the Federal Government should have not stopped funding. "The Federal Government has a lot to answer for . . .



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