Accessibility and quality of mental health services in rural and remote Australia
Royal Far West (RFW) made a submission to the Senate Committee Inquiry into Accessibility and quality of mental health services in rural and remote Australia. In an environment where new data has revealed Australia is behind other countries, the National Mental Health Commission has called for more investment in mental health for children from birth to 12 years. This period of childhood for rural and remote children and families is Royal Far West’s core focus for developmental health.
The RFW submission was supported by Alexandra Martiniuk MSc PhD. Associate Professor University of Sydney, Honorary Senior Fellow, Office of the Chief Scientist and Associate Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. Read full submission here…
Summary of RFW recommendations to the Senate Inquiry:
- There are not sufficient mental health services in rural and remote parts of Australia and it is the responsibility of all governments to urgently address this. 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.
Improve access through Medicare rebatable services by:
a. Increasing the number of sessions currently available under Medicare rebatable mental health plans to be available via telehealth, and removing the in-person component,
exclusively for people living in Modified Monash Model 4-7 locations;
b. Allowing “parent only” sessions for children under Medicare rebatable mental health plans via telehealth;
c. Addressing Childhood Developmental Vulnerability as underpinning mental health by broadening Medicare rebatable items to include allied health for childhood early
intervention, particularly speech pathology and occupational therapy via telehealth for people living in Modified Monash Model 4-7 locations.
d. Increasing MBS rebate for paediatric diagnostic services in Modified Monash Model 4-7 locations.
* Develop a collaborative partnership with Royal Far West to provide a proven, evidencebased nation-wide rural tele-mental health service to children and families of children with
mental health and conduct disorders, and address rural mental health as a national priority.
RFW also contributed to the National Rural Health Alliance’s submission.
Key areas of input to the NRHA submission
A balanced appraisal of telehealth, recognising that it is not a silver bullet but there is a strong evidence base as to its efficacy
A range of multi-disciplinary early intervention service models (that can be delivered via a mix of face to face and telehealth) – to address issues presenting children prior to a mental health concern arising.