Strengthening and promoting already existing partnerships must be a key element of tackling gaps in mental health services in rural, regional and remote areas, Australian Greens spokesperson for Mental Health, Senator Penny Wright, said.
Senator Wright said she was impressed by some of the innovative programs she saw in communities she visited as part of the first leg of her Australian-wide rural mental health consultation tour, such as the Men's Resource Centre in Albany, Western Australia.
"Something that has really struck me when I visited Western Australia this week is the initiative and creativity of individuals and community organisations pulling together to respond to issues and service gaps," Senator Wright said.
"The Men's Resource Centre in Albany does very good work in connecting with men and addressing that still all-too-common 'she'll be right, mate' mentality by encouraging men to look after themselves and seek help if they feel that something's not quite right.
"The importance of community partnerships and alliances in rural and regional areas cannot be overstated and all levels of government need to support them and work with them.
"But while there is some fantastic work going on, I have consistently heard that issues such as attracting and retaining workforce and lack of housing and crisis accommodation remain huge problems especially for small communities.
"I am looking forward to the next leg of my tour next month and learning more about what is needed to tackle these issues to ensure equal need means equal access to services for all Australians."