Australian Greens spokesperson for Mental Health, Senator Penny Wright, travelled to Western Australia in early June to begin the first leg of an Australian-wide tour to hear about the unique issues affecting mental health care services for Australians living in rural, regional and remote areas.
Senator Wright said while the Federal Government had injected a significant amount of funding into mental health over the past two years, people living in rural and remote areas were still encountering problems accessing quality mental health services compared to their urban counterparts.
"People living outside our capital cities are facing distinct challenges when it comes to mental health care," Senator Wright said.
"The shortage of specialist mental health professionals is a key problem for many communities and general practices often have long waiting lists and limited referral options. Concerns about privacy and the stigma still attached to mental health issues mean many people in small communities are reluctant to seek help.
"Suicides in rural Australia are reportedly as high as one a week and, with the impacts from climate change predicted to worsen, these numbers are likely to rise in the future. Suicide has a profound impact on small communities and it is vital that we consider the most effective ways to reverse this devastating trend.
During the tour, Senator Penny Wright will listen closely to the people and organisations who come face-to-face with these issues every day. "I am keen to hear from them about the gaps in services and the things that work well."
"We need to identify gaps in service delivery so we can determine what is needed to build healthier, more resilient communities, where people with equal need have access to equal services."