A further $27.5 million has been announced by the Australian Government, to expand the psychiatry workforce and ensure Australians have better access to mental health care regardless of where they live. WNSW PHN welcomes this news and looks forward to continuing to work with key stakeholders to improve mental health and wellbeing outcomes for the people of Western and Far West NSW.
The Psychiatry Workforce Program has been extended for a further three years and will continue to promote psychiatry to medical graduates, support additional psychiatry training and develop rural psychiatry training pathways and networks.
Australia and New Zealand fall short of other developed nations in the number of psychiatrists per capita. People living in regional, rural and remote areas may be disproportionately impacted by lack of access to specialised mental health care. This Program, delivered by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP), has seen approximately 260 GPs register to use the service. It prioritises areas of higher need for psychiatric services, including rural and regional Australia and training posts to support First Nations trainees.
The funding also saw additional funds dedicated to a free national GP Psychiatry Support Line that commenced from 1 July 2023 for all Australian based GPs. GPs are able to seek advice from qualified psychiatrists between 7am – 7pm, Monday to Friday. A support service that has no cost to the practice or the patient. Qualified psychiatrists can advise on a range of topics including mental health, safety, medication, psychosocial advice, treatment, diagnosis and referral pathways.
WNSW PHN is pleased to see more funding allocated to the GP support service over the next three years to increase access to quality mental health care for all Australians in the region.