Delivering rapid response for Tasmanians needing mental health support

Jeremy Rockliff,Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing

A multi-disciplinary mental health team that can rapidly deploy in response to mental-health-specific triple-0 calls has started operation in Southern Tasmania this week.

This new mental health co-response team, referred to as the Police, Ambulance and Clinician Early Response (PACER) team, will improve outcomes for mental health patients by enabling access to the right care, in the right place, at the right time, and will reduce avoidable mental health presentations to the Emergency Department.

The interagency team, comprised of Mental Health Clinicians, Police Officers, and Paramedics, will attend mental health-specific triple-0 calls, providing a rapid response to mental health crises in the community.

The key objective of this two-year pilot is to improve access to timely, appropriate, and evidence-based mental health care in the community, as well as to significantly reduce demand on our Police and Ambulance services.

Delivered as part of the Government’s $26 million investment in new mental health services, announced in the 2021 Budget, this initiative – which is the first of its kind in Tasmania – will initially operate in the South of the State.

Recognised as the gold standard in mental health co-response, the model addresses an identified service provision gap in Tasmania, increasing overall service capacity across the three agencies and promoting interagency cooperation, collaboration, and communication.

Importantly, the team will also help to reduce adverse outcomes and restrictive practices and will improve links with community-based mental health supports.

Recruitment has been finalised for each agency and team members have undertaken a comprehensive two-week training and orientation program.

Initially, 15.6 FTE staff have been recruited including 6 Police Officers, 6 Paramedics and 3.6 Mental Health Clinicians.

PACER is available between 8am and 11pm, seven days a week, with two teams operating per day out of Melville Street and Collins Street.

Designed to meet growing demand, this innovative service is based on a successful pilot in the ACT that allows people with mental health challenges to be treated at home or in an appropriate local setting and avoids the need for the person to attend an Emergency Department.

The ACT pilot resulted in 80 per cent of people seen by that PACER team being able to remain in the community, with only 12 per cent of people requiring transport to the Emergency Department, compared to 56 per cent previously.

PACER in Tasmania is being coordinated via an Inter-Departmental Committee that is chaired by the Deputy Secretary Community, Mental Health and Wellbeing, and includes senior Tasmania Police and Ambulance Tasmania representation.

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