Grievance Debate - Regional Mental Health

Wednesday March 03, 2021

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (16:02): I rise to make some further comment on a notice of motion made today. Quite interestingly, I noticed in my pigeonhole afterwards that the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists have just written to all state MPs and put together the SA State Parliament Budget submission 2021-22, prioritising South Australia's mental health.

I guess the reason I thought it was timely to draw members' attention to this submission was because it hits on a number of the themes we were talking about today, the overarching theme being a mental health system that works. It has three broad themes—matching capacity to demand, treating people where they live and a just forensic health system—with certain recommendations. I implore all MPs to open the package in their pigeonhole and have a read. With regard to 'Matching capacity to demand', the recommendations are:

Immediately implement proposals for acute behavioural assessment units, and drug and alcohol clinicians embedded into mainstream mental health services.

Fund SA Health to implement the proposed new statewide supply and demand workforce modelling process—

which is exactly what we were talking about in private members' motions today—

including development of a dedicated psychiatry workforce strategy, at an estimated cost here of about $400,000.

Commit funding for South Australia's mental health system to reach its full 2025 capacity targets.

Under 'Treating people where they live', the recommendations continue:

Increase the resources and capacity available to regional and rural Community Mental Health Teams and the Rural and Remote Mental Health Service.

Expand the capacity for CAMHS to provide mental health support for children and adolescents living in regional and rural South Australia and commit to permanent funding for the CAMHS service to the APY Lands.

Prioritise regional SA for Specialist Dementia Care Program funding.

Fund and establish an Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing Centre, emphasising local and culturally-safe clinical services.

Very quickly, the part that I went to was 'Treating people where they live' because I think it is very relevant for regional South Australia. I will take a couple of quotes:

While South Australia's mental health system needs widespread, systematic reforms, some areas are particularly in need of attention.

Repeated reports and plans have highlighted the crisis in mental health services in rural and remote Australia. Adverse outcomes for mental health, such as rates of suicide and self-harm, are significantly higher in rural and remote areas.

While there is no single measure which can solve this issue, a shortage of psychiatrists working in rural and remote regions is a definite contributing factor. In major cities, there are around 15 psychiatrists per 100,000 people, with that rate dropping to only 1.4 in some remote areas.

In today's Advertiser, under the headline 'National-first Urgent Mental Health Care Centre opens in Adelaide CBD', the article reads:

A 'living room'-style mental health crisis treatment service for thousands of patients who would otherwise end up stuck in hospital emergency departments has opened in Adelaide as the first of eight planned across the [region].

The $14m Urgent Mental Health Care Centre…in Grenfell Street is part of a $114.5m trial funded by the Federal Government and will give adults access to a range of mental health…services in a calm atmosphere, operating from midday to midnight.

There were more than 25,700 mental health presentations to EDs in Adelaide last year but about half of these did not need to be admitted to hospital—the new centre will focus on care for these cases.

That is the point I am trying to make. There seems to be increased additional service for Adelaide in the CBD, and I do acknowledge that is where the majority of South Australians live, but as a parliament we have to implore the government for a change of focus to regional areas or an increased focus on regional areas. Whilst I commend this initiative for the CBD of Adelaide, I would love to see similar initiatives rolled out in regional South Australia and support for early intervention.