2 June, 2024

Rural mental health forgotten in budget

Despite hopes for funding to bolster mental health workforce in rural, regional and remote Australia, psychiatrists say the budget has failed to address the shortage and uneven distribution of mental health workers.

Rural mental health forgotten in budget - feature photo

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists President Dr Elizabeth Moore said the rates of suicide, self-harm and emergency admissions for mental illness increase with remoteness in Australia.

“Over the past few months, we have reached a national consensus on the workforce crisis within our mental health system. Not only are there not enough psychiatrists, but they are also unevenly distributed.

The budget announced $29.7 million over three years for 61 Medicare Mental Health Centre, at least 30 of which will be in rural and regional Australia.

But psychiatrists are deeply concerned that without an available workforce, these initiatives will fail to make a real and lasting impact on the mental health crisis happening in rural and regional Australia.

Dr Moore said the demand for mental health services in the bush continues to outstrip the capacity of the rural and regional mental health system to provide care and support.

“Only 14% of Australian psychiatrists work rurally, but 29% of the population – around 7 million people – live in regional, rural and remote areas.

“We want to work with the Government to bridge the gap that currently exists and ensure that every Australian, regardless of their postcode, receives the timely and aff ordable care they need,” Dr Moore said.


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