TWO Tamworth psychologists are off to Canberra, where they hope to enlighten the federal health minister about the deep issues facing rural mental health.
Calm Consultants principal psychologists Nell Gaff and Amanda Jefferys have a bevy of concerns about the recently established primary health network and where it’s falling short in the bush.
“The new roll-out of the primary health network… kind of had a catastrophic result in our area, in that it’s set up in an unsustainable model,” Ms Gaff said.
The psychologists will meet with health minister Sussan Ley and assistant rural health minister Dr David Gillespie in Canberra, where they plan to put better rural mental health delivery on the radar.
Top of the agenda for Thursday’s meeting is adequate mental health services for the bush within the Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network (HNECCPHN).
“What the issue for us is, as psychologists when we come to a small regional community, we don’t just provide what comes under a federal government project,” Ms Gaff said.
“That might be what helps us to get there because we’re assured this work, but very quickly 50 per cent of our work becomes medicare, health cover, victims of crime and the attorney general's office, veteran’s affairs.”
While the pair have a huge chance to make a change in rural mental health service delivery, Ms Gaff was pleased just to get an audience with the ministers.
“I think it’s a success that we’re being asked to talk about issues in mental health in our area,” she said.
Ms Jefferys hoped the meeting could provide the impetus for a rethink of how care is delivered to the bush.
“We [are putting] on the radar that services need to be changed and targeted more towards regional and remote areas and those areas have very specific needs that aren’t being met,” Ms Jefferys said.
“We would like to see them reassess the funding models. We’re saying existing models are not adequate and clinicians that are on the ground don't have the necessary skill.”