Opposition health minister and Vasse MLA Libby Mettam says a proposed new program to help children and parents navigate social services in the South West shows the State Government is playing “catch up”. Ms Mettam said the announcement last week of the Health Navigator Pilot Program was yet another reason to question the axing of the Local Communities Co-ordinator trial program which served Margaret River families until last year. Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson and Communities Minister Simone McGurk announced an undetermined South West location would host the new program “designed to help vulnerable children and young people get timely access to health care, mental health services, and disability support”. The service replicates some of the functions of the LCC trial program, which was axed after two years and triggered not-for-profit group Mindful Margaret River to hire the former Communities officer with Lotterywest funding to provide a similar co-ordination role for residents struggling to navigate complex State and Federal Government support services. Ms Mettam said it was a “cruel decision” to cut that program in the first place and the proposed new $3.5 million program showed the LCC role had filled a crucial service gap. “It’s clear the McGowan Government is playing a desperate game of catch up, given the critical gaps in services for our most vulnerable across the Capes,” she said. “Given the extraordinary demand across the Capes region, particularly since these cuts, we need to see this reinvestment in the City of Busselton and Margaret River as a priority.” A spokeswoman for Ms McGurk said a co-design process would identify where the program’s South West office would be established. “Department of Communities largest South West office is in Bunbury,” she said. “However, Communities has smaller offices throughout the district.” Communities has previously refuted claims it had an office in Margaret River, despite leasing a tenancy on Bussell Highway which it said last month was mostly for Busselton staff to hold private meetings with local clients. In Parliament last month, Ms McGurk said the Margaret River LCC trial was always intended as a “two-year prototype” and the demand for its service wasn’t great enough to justify the cost.