RURAL MENTAL HEALTH ACROSS THE LIFESPAN
Our plan includes funding to reform rural mental health across the lifespan by funding flexible, multi-disciplinary and community-based care in local communities.
Country Australians face unique challenges affecting their mental health: drought and other natural disasters, the threat of climate change, isolation, rural unemployment and poor access to health services.
We will invest $55 million a year to build on the success of the Headspace model, offering grants and tenders to design and test new models of community-based care to cover key life stages.
During our tour of rural Australia, we saw firsthand the value of community houses and neighbourhood centres.
These are places where people can share meals, socialise, participate in recreational activities, learn new skills, access general and mental health advice and “belong”.
Our plan includes an investment of $20 million a year for more resources for community-based mental health programs, including community centres and neighbourhood houses.
Evidence shows community-based programs assist with social inclusion and community wellbeing while also providing a connecting point for a range of services, including those related to mental health.
ADDRESSING WORKFORCE CHALLENGES
Rural, regional and remote mental health service providers across Australia told us about the challenges they face in recruiting and retaining highly qualified, experienced staff.
We heard that the current rural mental health workforce is under-staffed, under-resourced and under-trained.
We also heard there is a need for a diverse rural mental health workforce including more peer workers, and more workers from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other cultural backgrounds.
That’s why we will invest $35 million per year to develop a rural mental health workforce plan, including incentives and pathways to rural practice and greater investment in education, research and training to grow a strong and effective rural mental health workforce.