Boost to drug, alcohol and Indigenous mental health - NSW Nationals

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Boost to drug, alcohol and Indigenous mental health

Treatment for alcohol and drug misuse, including ice, and Indigenous mental health services is undergoing a revamp with Primary Health Networks (PHN) expanding in regional districts to fill in the gaps of local health services.

The Hunter and Manning regions are next on the Federal Government’s agenda with boost of nearly $2.8 million in funding delivered by Federal Assistant Minister for Health and Member for Lyne, David Gillespie last week. 

The announcement follows extensive consultation with a variety of local groups which identified the need for more services for those in the community with substance abuse problems and culturally appropriate mental health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“The Federal Coalition 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,” Dr Gillespie said.

“This initiative by the Hunter, New England and Central Coast PHN is an example of how the new system is working to commission and deliver health services that match the various communities’ needs.”

Dr Gillespie said the Hunter, New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network (HNECC PHN), will direct the funds to fill gaps in local services.

With approximately 5 per cent of the Hunter-New England identifying as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders the Government has focused on the region and for the first time, the new mental health programs are holistically designed to suit local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

These programs established will aim to close the gap by early intervention groups focused on recovery and reconnecting with elders to share positive practices, health education, mentoring and art therapy.

“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,” Dr Gillespie said.

In the last 12 months, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are 1.6 times more likely to use any illicit drug,1.9 times more likely to use cannabis, 1.6 times more likely to use meth/amphetamines and 1.5 times more likely to misuse pharmaceuticals than Non-Indigenous Australians. 

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