Alphington Grammar loses fight to stop construction of mental health facility next door

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Melbourne private school, Alphington Grammar, launched an unsuccessful legal bid to block a 24-hour mental health facility from being built next door, after it argued it posed a risk to students’ safety and would affect its future viability.

According to The Guardian, Yarra City Council approved a development permission for the facility to be built near to Alphington Grammar School last year.

The school then attempted to have the ruling overturned by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (Vcat).

But a Vcat decision handed down last month found that the facility had a “net community benefit” and the school’s argument – that it would present an unacceptable risk to students and its community – were unfounded.

“We find the operation of a mental health facility will have negligible risk to the school students and community provided it operates in accordance with the OMP [operational management plan] and conditions on the permit,” the tribunal found.

The school had contended that the facility, which would provide overnight and same-day treatment for adults with mild to moderate psychiatric conditions, would expose students to potential interactions with clients on their way to school.

Vcat, in response, decided to accept the evidence of Prof Louise Newman, a psychiatrist called by the Healthe Care Group set to be built, who said clients receiving treatment would have low to moderate mental health issues and were  “more likely to be reserved and unlikely to engage in disturbing public behaviour”.

They agreed with her suggestion – rather than the building be stopped – that students be “supported in developing mental health resilience,” as opposed to the school’s position that they needed to be sheltered from any negative consequences.

Source: The Guardian

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