Recently published research, led by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, has detailed major barriers that Australian children and their parents face when seeking help for common mental health conditions. This includes a chronic shortage of psychiatrists and psychologists, especially those who work with children under 12, as well as lengthy wait lists. This is a common and enduring concern raised with me when speaking to people in my electorate.
The last year has seen massive uptake in telehealth services. There are positive signs of these services assisting people as part of bushfire recovery efforts, with organisations like Rural Health Connect linking around 150 bushfire effected residents to counselling. This at least can help people in remote areas access help sooner, start the process more quickly and conveniently – and hopefully improve their outcomes. I hope we see further extensions in how we utilise telehealth, including exploring how it can be utilised in schools, where it is particularly difficult in regional areas for children to access services.