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Senate backs incentives to attract mental health workers to the bush

An Australian Greens bid for improved mental health care in rural areas has been supported in a Senate vote today.

Australian Greens spokesperson for mental health Senator Penny Wright said a recent Monash University study recommended providing incentives for mental health professionals to practise outside major cities.

"This study found people in wealthier areas - all too often, that means the big cities - were able to access psychologists and psychiatrists up to three times as much as those in the bush," Senator Wright said.

"This just can't continue. It's time to take action and ensure the people who live in rural and remote areas don't miss out on the care they need because the help simply isn't there."

Senator Wright, who visited rural and regional areas in every state as part of a mental health consultation in 2012 and 2013, said the Monash University research backed up what country people had been saying for years.

"My consultation found the current rural mental health workforce is under-staffed, under-resourced and under-trained and found more needed to be done to attract professionals to country areas.

"I'm pleased the Senate today voted in favour of some action on this issue and I hope the Abbott Government will take this opportunity to introduce incentives for mental health professionals to work outside major cities."

The full text of Senator Wright’s motion can be found here.

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