The Australian Greens' plan to invest more than half a billion dollars in mental health services across rural and regional Australia will save lives and build stronger communities, say Senators Penny Wright and Peter Whish-Wilson.
Launching the party's rural mental health policy in Launceston today, Australian Greens' mental health spokesperson Senator Wright said the policy was based on recommendations sought directly from rural communities.
"Years of under-investment in rural mental health continues to cost lives all across country Australia," Senator Wright said.
"The current rural mental health workforce is under-staffed, under-resourced and under-trained, with almost 90 per cent of psychiatrists and two thirds of mental health nurses based in major cities.
"This leaves the 30 per cent of Australians who live in rural and regional areas without life-saving services and care.
"In the past year, I have travelled to regional areas in every state in Australia, to find out directly from mental health care consumers, carers and providers how we can build a healthier and stronger rural Australia.
"I'm proud today to be announcing a fully-costed $552.6 million plan for the next three years, which includes expanding the Headspace model to other age groups, helping country services attract and retain staff, and a campaign to address stigma.
"We will also invest in neighbourhood houses and community centres and boost outreach and telepsychiatry services."
Senator for Tasmania, Peter Whish-Wilson, said that mental health policy goes to the heart of our nation's wellbeing and touches all of us.
"With a family in farming in a regional area, I know the unique challenges country Australians face and I know these policies would make a big different to rural areas in Tasmania and all around Australia.
"The Australian Greens are standing up for a healthier and stronger rural Australia by ensuring everyone can get the mental health care they need," concluded Senator Whish-Wilson.