The Federal Opposition’s $1.5 billion mental health plan has received support from experts operating in rural and regional Australia.
Nanjing Night Net

The Real Action Plan for Better Mental Health would deliver 20 new Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centres (EPPIC), 60 additional youth Headspace sites and 800 acute and sub acute early intervention beds.

The NSW Richmond Fellowship’s chief executive officer, Pam Rutledge, welcomed the announcement.

“From our point of view anything that brings mental health and the need for resources in mental health to the forefront of the public debate . . . that’s fantastic,” she said.

The EPPIC model being trumpeted by the Opposition was pioneered here by Australian of the Year Professor Patrick McGorry who has shown frustration at the speed at which the Federal Government is moving on mental health.

The Richmond Fellowship has been providing accommodation and outreach support to people with mental health problems for more than 30 years.

Ms Rutledge said the new focus on these issues was the most she had seen over those three decades.

Under the plan, Headspace centres, which provide mental health support to young people and were formed under the Howard Government, would expand from 60 to 90 sites around the nation.

Evidence suggests mental illness most often manifests in teenagers and young adults between 12 to 24 years of age.

According to the Coalition its new policy would see an additional 250,000 young people with access to mental health services.

“We are pleased that we’ve got a focus on young people as Patrick McGorry, Australian of the Year, has been saying,” Ms Rutledge said

“We know that one in five in the population is likely to experience a mental illness so we just look at the size of our rural and regional communities and we know the problem is likely to be very significant.”

Former Labor adviser on mental health John Mendoza, who quit in disgust over what he saw as the Government’s failure to act on the issue, has also backed the policy.

However the Government has labelled the Opposition as shortsighted after it proposed axing some of Labor’s health programs to pay for the plan.

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