$1.45b funding boost for bush battlers
AUSTRALIANS living in remote and rural parts of the country are increasingly suffering from the prolonged effects of the drought with statistics revealing a growing mental health crisis.
Australians living in remote areas see mental health professionals at one fifth the rate of their city counterparts, with residents in some parts of the country hours away from a psychologist or psychiatrist.
Last week, Maranoa MP David Littleproud pledged $1.45 billion will be invested to support mental health services in the bush, to ensure job and services security.
"It is estimated one in five people experience common mental health disorders each year,” Mr Littleproud said.
"Nearly half of the Australian population will experience mental illness at some point in their lives, but less than half will access treatment.
"We're going through a tough time, as drought also impacts on mental health, and this is an important topic which needs to be discussed, because through conversation comes healing, and hopefully provides time for help and assistance.”
Mr Littleproud said he would continue to advocate for better mental health service access for those living in rural and remote Australia.
Minister for Regional Services Bridget McKenzie said government funding had in the past year allowed the Royal Flying Doctor Service to begin to roll out services to tackle mental health issues.
She said the RFDS provided a critical service for regional Australians and in the first six months of this year would deliver mental health services to 150 locations around the nation.
"This is part of our response to the shortage of services available. We know there is a higher need for these services in these locations, compounded by an unequal distribution of the health workforce,” she said.
"The funding will mean real benefits to patients in rural and remote areas who do not have access to mental health services.”