Treatment for alcohol and drug misuse, including ice, and indigenous mental health services across the Hunter and Manning regions are being improved with nearly $2.8 million in Commonwealth funding.
Federal Assistant Health Minister and Member for Lyne, Dr David Gillespie, said the Hunter, New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network (HNECC PHN), funded by the Australian Government, will direct the funds to fill gaps in local health services.
This follows extensive consultation with a variety of local groups which identified the need for more services for people with drug and alcohol problems, and culturally appropriate mental health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“The Federal Government established Primary Health Networks to assess local health needs in each region and ensure that the right services are delivered to meet those needs,” Minister Gillespie said.
“This initiative by the Hunter, New England and Central Coast PHN is an example of how this new system is working to commission and deliver health services that match various communities’ needs.
“Tackling alcohol and drug misuse, including ice, and mental illness are major priorities for our government,” Minister Gillespie said.
“We are not only making a significant investment in the law enforcement and drug detection in our fight against drugs, but we are also investing record funding in the health sector to support important initiatives that help communities tackle their own local challenges.”
HNECC PHN chief executive, Richard Nankervis, said Hunter Primary Care and New Horizons have been chosen to provide the bulk of the new programs.
“The aim of these programs is to provide the community with health services that are joined up, integrated, culturally appropriate and safe,” Mr Nankervis said. “Approximately five per cent of Hunter New England residents identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and, like many other indigenous people, face increased rates of health conditions, including mental illness.
“These new indigenous mental health programs will for the first time be holistically designed to suit local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
A care coordination service for indigenous people with severe mental illness will be provided by Hunter Primary Care’s Indigenous Mental Health Care Coordination Program, named Yudhildin.
New Horizons will provide peer and group based programs (such as early intervention groups) focused on recovery and connecting with elders to share positive practices, health education, mentoring and arts therapy.
Minister Gillespie said funding for the new programs and services was allocated through the PHN’s commissioning process, informed by the PHN needs assessment and market analysis.
“Commissioning enables this PHN and others around Australia to plan and contract health care services that are appropriate and relevant to the needs of local communities,” he said.
Indigenous health and mental health are both among the six priority areas set by the Government for targeted action by PHNs.