More mental health support for rural and remote communities

The Hon Greg Hunt MP

Minister for Health and Aged Care

The Morrison Government is investing $14.3 million to provide additional mental health support for Australians living in rural and remote communities in Western NSW and the Northern Territory.

Australians living in rural and remote areas deserve the same access to mental health services as those living in our major cities. We know that remoteness and loneliness are contributing to suicide amongst our young people, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are particularly vulnerable.

Announced as part of the 2021-22 Budget, the $14.3 million will be used to engage more mental health workers and create locally tailored and culturally safe services for young people aged 12-25 years living in rural and remote areas.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt MP, said the Government is profoundly committed to safeguarding the mental health and wellbeing of young people across Australia, including those in rural and remote communities.

“We want to ensure that our young Australians, especially in rural and remote communities know that they are not alone, which is why we’re putting more health professionals on the ground and providing more support,” Minister Hunt said.

The Western NSW Primary Health Network (PHN) will receive $8.7 million to recruit, train, and support Aboriginal Wellbeing Workers to deliver culturally safe mental health outreach services to young people across 10 rural and remote communities with populations of less than 5,000.

The Northern Territory PHN will receive $5.6 million to establish a new headspace satellite service in Palmerston; provide co-designed outreach support services to the Yulara and Mutitjulu communities from the existing headspace Alice Springs service; and engage Arrernte Angankere (traditional healers) to improve equity of access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in the region.

The PHNs will work with local communities and key stakeholders to co-design the services to ensure they meet the needs of young people.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt AM MP, said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are nearly twice as likely to die by suicide and Indigenous Australians are nearly three times more likely to be psychologically distressed than non-Indigenous Australians.

“These new services, including a new headspace satellite service in Palmerston will ensure that young Indigenous Australians living in rural and remote communities can access culturally tailored mental health support when they need it,” Minister Wyatt said.

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention,

David Coleman MP, said the Morrison Government continues to make mental health and suicide prevention a national priority.

“This investment is part of our record $2.3 billion investment for the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan to lead landmark reform of the mental health system, which includes $6.5 billion in mental health and suicide prevention services and supports in 2021-22, doubling since 2012-13,” Assistant Minister Coleman said.

As part of the 2021-22 Budget, the Morrison Government has invested $278 million to strengthen, enhance and expand the national headspace network.

Australians looking for support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic can access the Beyond Blue Coronavirus Wellbeing Support Service anytime via telephone at 1800 512 348 or online at coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au.

Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or the Government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health.

If you are concerned about suicide, living with someone who is considering suicide, or bereaved by suicide, the Suicide Call Back Service is available at 1300 659 467 or www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au.

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