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$2 mln boost for Tamworth region mental health services

02 August, 2007

Mental health services will increase in the Tamworth region, following a $2 million boost in funding from the Australian Government, the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Senator Brett Mason said.

The region’s new centre-based and outreach services, which will have seven new mental health professional staff, were launched by Senator Sandy Macdonald, who represented Senator Mason.

“This funding will ease the difficulties that people who live in rural and remote areas experience when they need mental health services,” Senator Mason said.

Senator Macdonald said the funding was an urgent and important investment, as the North West Slopes region had a significantly higher rate of male suicide than that for all men residing in NSW.

“The increased funding is part of the first stage of the Australian Government’s $72.3 million investment in the Mental Health Services in Rural and Remote Areas initiative,” he said.

“The Government is funding selected support organisations that are able to deliver mental health services in identified geographical areas-of-need. These organisations will deliver services provided by professionals including psychologists, social workers, mental health nurses, and Aboriginal health and mental health workers.

“The North West Slopes Division of General Practice will provide mental health services to the Tamworth region, including Quirindi, Walcha, Kootingal, Nundle and Werris Creek.

“As well, a new model of community-based mental health care will be developed in the region by the Northern NSW University Department of Rural Health and its partner organisations”.

At the outset, the Australian Government is providing more than $21 million for areas of high need - providing funds to organisations including Divisions of General Practice, Aboriginal Medical Services and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Stage two of the initiative will provide mental health services in areas where capacity for service delivery is low. It will also focus on drought-affected areas across Australia, with $20.6 million specifically earmarked for mental health services in these areas.

The Mental Health Services in Rural and Remote Areas initiative is part of the Australian Government’s $1.9 billion contribution to the Council of Australian Governments’ National Action Plan on Mental Health.