The Health News – 18 March 2014

Overview

  • The Royal Flying Doctor’s Service is hoping that the federal governments upcoming drought package covers mental health programs in regional and remote areas.
  • In NSW, it’s hoped veterans in the Riverina will receive greater mental health support as a new council meets on the issue. Minister for Veterans Affairs Senator Michael Ronaldson has convened a Prime Ministerial Advisory council to discuss the issue.
  • In NSW, The Minerals council has said a mental health roadmap given to mining groups throughout the Hunter region will give practical direction for improving their employees’ mental health.

Health News on HPR.

Flying doctor keen for drought funds to help maintain mental health programs – By Kate Stephens
The Royal Flying Doctor’s Service is hoping that the federal governments upcoming drought package covers mental health programs in regional and remote areas. $10m of the package will go towards social and mental health services. RFDS Spokesperson Anita Hansen stressed the funding must address rural and remote mental health programs,  “Ten point seven million dollars is not a lot of money in the terms of the whole of Australia, mainly in New South Wales and Queensland in this instance, so how we spend that is actually really important and it is very needed in these communities – the impact of the drought has been significant. We have a few programs running in western Queensland, particularly, in relation to mental health in those rural and remote areas but we are unclear as to which of these programs are included in the drought funding. We are still waiting to clearly hear from the Federal Government about what is actually included in those existing services funded through that program and which will be funded through different programs.”

Veterans’ Affairs Minister says more money could be allocated for mental health programs – no author listed
In NSW, it’s hoped veterans in the Riverina will receive greater mental health support as a new council meets on the issue. Minister for Veterans Affairs Senator Michael Ronaldson has convened a Prime Ministerial Advisory council to discuss the issue. The minister said it is crucial that recently returned veterans receive the support they need and their treatment should benefit from lessons taken from past errors. He said “It was never a constructive and proactive approach it was always reactive. “We want to make sure that we are ahead of the game and not playing catch-ups, that we are ready to move as quickly as possible. And I’ve put in place a younger veterans contemporary needs forum which focuses specifically on the needs of younger and recently returned veterans.”

The minister said the government will review funding for returned veterans mental health support, and indicated the currently $166m per year spent on veteran mental health may be increased. He said “That’s a demand driven amount, not a capped amount. What I want the council to do is to look at what is being done at the moment, identify those gaps and if they believe we need to spend more money and they identify those areas that should be spent. Obviously the government will have a very close look at them, and then if there’s extra funding required than obviously that will need to be looked at in the context of forthcoming budgets.”

Mental health blueprint for miners – no author listed
In NSW, The Minerals council has said a mental health roadmap given to mining groups throughout the Hunter region will give practical direction for improving their employees’ mental health. The blueprint was devised by a team of experts from Newcastle University and the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, supported by the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources. Chief executive of the Minerals Council Stephen Galilee insisted the state’s mining industry is committed to providing strong support for mental health issues. He said  “We acknowledge that the nature of our workforce and some of the issues we face in terms of safety and more recently in relation to job losses, means there are things we can do at a practical level. “We do work in an industry where safety is our number one priority but recently there have been some inci dents which are a reminder to us that we can’t afford to have our workforce distracted and mental health does play a role in that. We also know that over the last 12 months we have seen a number of sad announcements particularly in the Hunter, in relation to job losses and that does weigh heavily on people.”