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NSW Labor promises new mental health unit

Under a Labor win, NSW will have its first public mother and baby mental health unit.

NSW will have its first public mother and baby mental health unit if the Labor government is re-elected.

Premier Kristina Keneally said a state-wide unit would allow mothers to deal with post-natal depression while still keeping their baby with them.

"New mothers who are admitted into an inpatient unit can be separated from their baby at a time when it is crucial they be together," Keneally said on Saturday.

"Experts say admitting a mother and baby together helps them improve their bond, and can improve breastfeeding during the crucial period of early infant development.

"This new peri-natal unit means new mums needing mental health services can get the care they need and still build a close bond with their newborn baby."

The new unit will cost $13.6 million over four years to set up and operate.

Labor would assess the most suitable location for the new facility, based on factors including birth rates and the areas where clinical need is highest.

Early last week Labor made several other promises aimed at wooing female voters.

This included the promise to stump up $16 million to increase home maternity nursing visits.

It would expand an existing scheme currently operating in five parts of the state into Wollongong and the Sydney suburbs of Bankstown, Blacktown and Redfern.

The program targets socially and economically disadvantaged families, with a focus on helping women who may suffer post-natal depression and other problems when their children are very young.

NSW Labor has also pledged $800,000 for the Australian Breastfeeding Association over four years to encourage and support breastfeeding in rural areas.

Labor has also promised that by 2012 half of all people sitting on state government boards and committees will be female.


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