The NSW Nationals in the state government are putting the health and wellbeing of regional communities first, with major projects to improve our mental health and return women to work.

The state government will spend $46.8 million as part of the 2020-21 NSW Budget to deliver 100 new school-based nurses across the state to support the health and wellbeing needs of students and families.

The brainchild of NSW Nationals Minister for Mental Health, Bronnie Taylor, the highly successful Wellbeing and Health In-Reach Nurse (WHIN) program will be expanded to see highly skilled nurses embedded in more schools to ensure students can easily access health and social support when they need it.

Mrs Taylor said an evaluation of the pilot sites found the wellbeing nurses had successfully supported vulnerable students for a range of health and mental wellbeing issues.

“With the pilot program, we saw that school children often go and see the nurse about general health issues and once they are there, open up about other problems they have been experiencing,” Mrs Taylor said.

“The nurses will be given mental health training but are also there to deliver general health care and advice at the right time.”

NSW Nationals Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said WHIN nurses are currently based in secondary and primary schools in Young, Tumut, Cooma, Deniliquin, Murwillumbah and Lithgow.

“These nurses are an important asset in our schools and as part of a combined approach with school counsellors and mental health training, our students will have every possible access to help when they need it,” Mrs Mitchell said.

$6 MILLION TO HELP COMMUNITIES TACKLE SUICIDE

NSW Nationals Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor has announced that the state government will invest $6 million over three years as part of the 2020-21 NSW Budget to establish 12 Community Wellbeing Collaboratives in communities at high risk of suicide.

The collaboratives will organise the response from all services in the local area in times of need, bringing together doctors, nurses, police, ambulance, media, teachers, parents, carers, Aboriginal organisations and local councils.

In the event of a suicide cluster, the collaboratives will coordinate a rapid response from the ground up.

Mrs Taylor said the groups would work with the community even when there wasn’t a crisis, to continually engage with local people and provide information to parents, teachers, carers and young people about mental health.

“We know the majority of mental health care is delivered in the community, which is why we’re embedding both proactive and reactive layers of support outside the hospital setting, in the places where people live their lives every day,” Mrs Taylor said.

If you, or someone you know, is thinking about suicide or experiencing a personal crisis or distress, please seek help immediately by calling 000 or one of these services:

• Lifeline 13 11 14
• Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
• NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511

$10 MILLION GRANTS PROGRAM TO ASSIST WOMEN BACK INTO THE WORKFORCE

NSW Nationals Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor has encouraged women across the state to apply for a grant of up to $5000 through the state government’s new $10 million Return to Work program, as part of the 2020-21 NSW Budget.

“There are so many costs involved in starting up again, so it is great that women looking to return to work will be able to use these grants towards things like training and education, textbooks or stationery,” Mrs Taylor said.

The grants program will provide women with financial assistance and targeted support including mentoring, advice and training to help them return to the workforce.

Mrs Taylor said the grants would be particularly valuable for women with young families.

“The money can be used for childcare, including before and after school care and transport, which will really help mothers overcome some of the biggest barriers to getting back into work,” Mrs Taylor said.

Any NSW resident who has been out of the workforce for at least a month and is intending to return to work within six months of receiving a Return to Work Grant is eligible to apply.

Successful applicants will be given a Return to Work Coordinator to develop a plan, which will set out the resources that will assist them getting back in the workforce.

For more information, visit www.service.nsw.gov.au/register-interest-return-work-program.