The right services, at the right place, at the right time: ACT Budget growing mental and justice health services for the future

Released 03/06/2019

The ACT Government is investing to deliver better mental health and justice health services in the ACT – ensuring more Canberrans can access the right services, where and when they need them.

Around one third of Canberrans will need mental health care at some stage in their lives. This means that our local services and facilities have to expand as our population grows so that all Canberrans can get the right help and support when it’s needed.

Through the 2019-20 ACT Budget we are investing in both acute and community-based services, delivering better support for people experiencing severe mental health episodes and those managing chronic conditions.

This Budget also places an important focus on early intervention. Early intervention can make a real difference by improving lives, building resilience in our communities, keeping people well for longer, and reducing avoidable use of acute and crisis services.

New mental health initiatives delivered through this year’s budget include:

  • Planning for a new Police, Ambulance and Clinician Early Response
  • Additional beds for Adult Mental Health Unit
  • More mental health services at Canberra Hospital
  • More support for mental health carers
  • Diverting people with mental illness from the justice system
  • Enhanced drug and alcohol services for detainees in the Alexander Maconochie Centre.

Planning for a new Police, Ambulance and Clinician Early Response
We will undertake planning and design work for a Police, Ambulance and Clinician Early Response (PACER) service to better support Canberrans experiencing acute mental health episodes. This will focus on designing an integrated service model which brings together police, ambulance paramedics and mental health clinicians to support the safe assessment and treatment of people experiencing acute mental health episodes, minimising both avoidable hospital presentations and contact with the justice system for people with mental health conditions.

More beds for the Adult Mental Health Unit
We are boosting allied health and nursing staff at the Adult Mental Health Unit at The Canberra Hospital. This will ensure inpatients are provided more comprehensive psychosocial care to support their recovery and management of their mental health, while also supporting stronger workforce development.

Expansion of Mental Health Consultation Liaison Services
We will expand the Mental Health Consultation Liaison Service to operate seven days a week. The expanded service will provide support to people with mental illness across The Canberra Hospital campus, with a particular focus on people admitted into medical and surgical wards and those presenting to the Emergency Department. The expanded service will ensure that mental health issues can be safely managed in general wards and will reduce pressure on acute inpatient mental health beds.

Expansion of eating disorder service
We will establish an Eating Disorders Specialist Clinical Hub and a community-based intervention support service to expand the range of eating disorder services available in the ACT and make these available to more Canberrans. Through this initiative we will also establish a project team to review current demand and plan for future service needs.

More mental health services at The Canberra Hospital
We will establish an Electroconvulsive Therapy service within the Adult Mental Health Unit at The Canberra Hospital. This new service will provide better access to necessary therapy for patients experiencing mental health issues like depression and psychosis.

Having a dedicated Electroconvulsive Therapy service at the AMHU will significantly improve access to this clinical service for patients, leading to reduced length of stay for inpatients and fewer relapses for people requiring maintenance therapy in the community.

More support for mental health carers
We are recruiting two Carer Engagement Clinicians to pilot a range of support and psychosocial education activities that will build capacity for the families and carers of people with mental health conditions. This investment recognises the stressors and challenges that mental health carers face and the impact this can have on their own health and wellbeing. This initiative will strengthen the resilience of carers and consumers, and support the involvement of mental health carers in care and recovery planning.

Diverting more people with mental illness from the justice system
We will provide more staff to respond to the growing number of Canberrans with complex needs appearing before the ACT Courts, and support strengthening diversion processes away from the Courts where possible.

This initiative directly supports and integrates with the Government’s agenda to ‘build communities not prisons’ – helping divert people from prison by supporting their mental health needs in the community. It will also provide more capacity to deliver mental health assessments and supports at the Courts, which is often a place where Canberrans can experience particularly high levels of stress and administrative pressure.

Enhanced drug and alcohol services for detainees
In response to existing demand and feedback from the community sector regarding unmet need, we will boost resources for the Justice Health service  to enhance drug and alcohol services at the Alexander Maconochie Centre. Recruiting additional specialised nursing staff will support an expansion of the existing opiate replacement treatment service and the delivery of a range of additional drug and alcohol services. Detainees will be able to access services seven days a week, and the service expansion will mean they are better supported to engage with their substance use issues while also forming essential linkages with counselling and services that may help them once released back into the community.

This $24.2 million package of investments will strengthen Canberra’s mental and justice health services today and in the years to come. As our city grows, we are ensuring that the services and supports which help Canberrans with their mental health and wellbeing grow too.

Media: Minister Rattenbury will be made available for interview at 10:45am today at the Legislative Assembly on request. Photos, audio and interviews with community stakeholders will also be made available on request.

- Statement ends -

Section: Shane Rattenbury, MLA | Media Releases

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