The Beagle Editor, The following letter has been forwarded to Headspace. As this is a Federally funded initiative, this service should not be restricted by the tabling of the Eurobodalla Health Service Clinical Service Plan due for submission to the NSW Ministry for Health in June 2019.
The Eurobodalla Shire has the second largest population in the Southern NSW Local Health District.
Despite having a relatively low proportion of infants and young people (4.3% aged 0-4 years, 15.3% aged 5-19 years), the Eurobodalla Shire has similar numbers to Goulburn-Mulwaree and Bega Valley LGAs (7,450 people aged 0-19 years in 2016).
It has the largest indigenous population (5.6%, with 46% of these being aged 0-19 years)
There is no Regional or Base Hospital in the 300 kilometres between Nowra and Bega.
Currently (2016/17) the total separations for acute psychiatry, non acute psychiatry and psychogeriatric care were 517. There was only 25% self sufficiency for these services requiring outflow to Bega, Goulburn, ACT and Sydney.
Between October 2016 and September 2017, there were 1,761 Triage and Emergency Care Support (TECS) referrals to Eurobodalla CMH, the majority (62%) referred through the Mental Health Helpline, another 32% were referred via emergency departments (20% at Batemans Bay, 10% at Moruya) and 6% via hospital wards.
Community Mental Health services consisted of 68% adult & general, 15% child & adolescent, 10% older people and 7% dementia & acute behavioural disturbances. There was a higher proportion of female clients represented in the 12 - 25 year age group. The Aboriginal community represented 19% of adolescent services.
Perinatally, 157 women are identified through Safe Start multidisciplinary meetings of the Eurobodalla Maternity service. Of these 24 stand as having intensive needs. A significant proportion of these women are aged under 25 years. Care for these women, children and families is provided by a single Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Coordinator based outside the region as 0.5FTE and covering the entire SNSWLHD.
The Eurobodalla Drug and Alcohol service had 274 client episodes in 2016/17, with 52% at Moruya/Narooma and 48% at Batemans Bay. The service saw more males (64%) than females, and 16% of clients were Aboriginal. Six per cent were aged between 14-24 years.
Headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation funded by the Australian Government Department of Health has services in Nowra, Bega and Queanbeyan but there is no service within the Eurobodalla. It is 300 kilometres from Nowra to Bega. Young people, particularly those with young children, are disadvantaged by distance and limited transport opportunities.
I acknowledge the great service that Headspace provides. With more than 2 million occasions of service provided, they have helped thousands of young people get vital support through our 100+ national Headspace centres, online services and clinical programs across Australia.
The Federal Government has announced extra funding for the national youth mental health foundation aimed at allowing it to employ more staff and provide 14,000 extra services at its 107 centres across the country.
Australia’s mental health services will receive a $52 million boost in an attempt to cut waiting times for desperate teenagers struggling with anxiety or depression.
Twelve million eight hundred thousand dollars will be allocated to offering online support to youngsters in rural and remote areas.
The youth population of the Eurobodalla deserve the same level of mental health services as those of the surrounding towns.
I request your action on providing a local Headspace service.
VIDEO: About headspace