Submission to Senate Community Affairs inquiry into accessibility and quality of mental health services in rural and remote Australia

Mental Health Australia collaborated with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) and the National Rural Health Alliance to formulate a recommendation. The rural groups felt it is particularly important for the sector to have a unified, tangible approach to addressing the mental health service shortfalls that rural and remote communities are experiencing, with a clear recommendation that the Committee could make in its report.

Our submission makes the following recommendation: 

“The COAG Health Council should be tasked to develop a rural mental health strategy, informed by a collation prepared by the National Mental Health Commission of the PHN service mapping in rural and remote areas and other key data that identifies service shortfalls. The Commission should also be tasked with monitoring and overseeing implementation of the strategy, reporting back directly to the COAG Health Council.”

The submission also highlights that responsibility for mental health in rural and remote Australia needs to be shared across portfolios and jurisdictional boundaries, and that the economic impact of policy changes (beyond the mental health service system) may also affect mental health outcomes and should be accounted for my governments. The submission points out that the transition process has been hastily planned and poorly communicated. It has already created significant gaps in psychosocial services for people with psychosocial disability who are ineligible for the NDIS and less than desirable experiences and outcomes for NDIS participants.

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NDIS, rural and remote, royal flying doctor service, Senate inquiry

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