A new national mental health program is commencing this month which will expand access to mental health services in rural and remote Australia. The new program will see mental health workers visit communities who previously faced long travel times to access services. It was made possible with new funding announced last year by the Liberals-National Federal Government.
Remote Australians see mental health professionals on average at one fifth the rate of city people. Some parts of country Australia have no registered psychologists. Seeing a mental health worker can mean hours of travel, which is a barrier to getting help when it’s needed. The RFDS will now be able to visit more communities, and offer care where it’s not been available.
The new mental health program will operate in addition to existing RFDS emergency services and visiting doctor, nursing, and dental programs. Mental health teams will be located at existing RFDS Bases, and travel to communities as part of wider RFDS outreach services. Telehealth access to mental health care will play a part of the new service.
The Minister for Regional Services, Senator the Hon. Bridget McKenzie said "The Royal Flying Doctor Service provides a critical service and expects to deliver a range of mental health services to around 150 locations for the first six months of 2019. Services vary from state to state and may include face-to-face treatments and interventions, individual, family and group sessions, and support for telehealth services.
The funding is part of our response to the shortage of mental health services in rural and remote Australia. We know there is a higher need for mental health services in these locations, compounded by an unequal distribution of the health workforce. The funding will mean real benefits to patients in rural and remote areas who do not have access to mental health services because Commonwealth-funded activity doesn’t reach them.”
Right: Map showing locations of new mental health services
Find out more about our mental health programs
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800, Mensline Australia on 1300 789 978 or the Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.