4th Australian Rural and Remore Mental Health Symposium
“PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST”: MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS AND INITIATIVES IN AUSTRALIAN RURAL AND REMOTE COMMUNITIES.
The conference will be held in Adelaide from the 16th to the 21st of November 2012.
Our vast country is graced with a diverse population. From indigenous beginnings our population has swollen with the addition of migrants from many countries bringing with them an eclectic mix of individual and collective ethnic, cultural and religious qualities, over many generations.
The settling of regional, rural, and remote areas has provided us with agricultural and mineral resources which are fundamental necessities contributing substantially to our economy. Despite the major contribution to the economy that stems from rural and remote areas, differing state and federal policies have led to a situation whereby rural and remote communities appear to be neglected, as evidenced by their limited access to health services, and in particular mental health services.
Sixteen percent of the population are found in our smaller regional towns and rural and remote communities that spread over approximately 99percent of the continent. With approximately 3-4percent of our population now living and working in rural and remote communities, or in isolated areas, we need to be more aware of their needs and how these needs are best serviced.
People living in remote areas receive 60 percent fewer services
Those in rural areas receive 12 percent fewer, than those in major cities. The large deficit in mental health services for people in rural and remote areas must be recognised and overcome.
A 2007 National Survey showed that around 20 per cent of the population were affected by mental illness in both major cities and rural areas. However, as people in remote areas were not included in this assessment, it could be argued that this percentage could be even higher in those areas. Moreover, people in remote areas received less than half the total number of services for mental health received by those in the Major Cities. (Web-based services were not included in these estimates.) (Source National Rural Health Alliance May 2011).
What about a “fair go” through equity and the provision of adequate resources, particularly in relation to rural and remote mental health services? By putting people first in rural and remote communities, how can we better meet their needs? How well are we currently providing services to meet their needs? What works well, what doesn’t, and how can services be improved? What can we work towards in the future to put people and their health, particularly their mental health, first, in rural and remote Australia?