A THREATENED professional development program for rural psychologists has received support from more quarters as the search for funding to keep it alive continues.
Northern Tablelands MP Richard Torbay called on the state government in parliament last Tuesday to fund the Rural and Remote Area Psychologist Program (RRAPP) to the tune of $500,000 over three years to ensure its survival.
Mr Torbay told parliament this sum was relatively small, given the outcomes of the award-winning program.
The Mental Health Association of NSW has also thrown its support behind the program, writing a letter to the government and the state’s health commissioner to request they help keep it operating.
“The RRAPP stood as an excellent example of how to deliver a much needed service to rural and regional areas,” chief executive officer Elizabeth Priestley said.
The program has helped provide the training, supervision and mentoring necessary for psychologists to retain accreditation to about 150 rural practitioners.
Many fear its loss will see diminished mental health services in these areas because
psychologists will either lose their accreditation or be forced to move to a more populated area where such professional development is accessible.
But the state government has so far declined to fund it.
Mental Health and Western NSW Minister Kevin Humphries said professional development was the responsibility of the individual and their employer, or the local health districts.
Former project officer Graham Parry said unless it received the necessary funding soon, it would be lost.
The program was founded in 2010 with funding from the former NSW Psychologists Board, but a restructure means the new Psychology Council of NSW is not authorised to fund it.
It is surviving on a $5000 donation from the Country Women’s Association that has kept its networking blog running.
The program received an Excellence in Program Delivery Award at the 2012 NSW Mental Health Matters Awards, and was included in the Services for
Australia Rural and Remote Allied Health Conference in Launceston and the Australian Psychological Society’s annual conference in Perth.