COAG Mental Health - Improving the Capacity of Workers in Indigenous Communities

Funding of $20.8 million over five years will go towards training for 840 Aboriginal Health Workers, counsellors, and clinical staff to treat mental illness, training in mental health first aid for 350 staff located in Aboriginal Health Services, 25 mental health scholarships for Indigenous students, and 10 new mental health worker positions.

Page last updated: 09 May 2006

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Why is this important?

  • Health workers will be trained to identify and address mental illness and associated substance use issues in Indigenous communities, to recognise the early signs of mental illness and make referrals for treatment where appropriate.
  • At present, health workers in Indigenous communities range from highly skilled mental health staff through to local community members with no mental health training.

Who will benefit?

  • The initiative will benefit Indigenous Australians and Aboriginal Health Services nationally. Indigenous Australians will benefit from increased access to trained professionals and better referral and treatment options. Aboriginal Health Services will benefit from:
    • Training for 840 Aboriginal Health Workers, counsellors and clinical staff to recognise and treat mental illness, including drug and alcohol problems;
    • Training in mental health first aid for 350 transport and administration staff located in Aboriginal Health Services who manage clients on presentation to services;
    • The creation of 25 scholarships for Indigenous students under the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme, specifically to undertake studies in the mental health discipline; and
    • The creation of ten additional mental health worker positions.

What funding is the Government committing to the initiative?

  • This measure forms part of the Government’s contribution to the COAG Mental Health package, as announced on 5 April 2006.
  • The Commonwealth is committing $20.8 million over five years to this initiative.

What have we done in the past?

  • The Commonwealth continues to support 15 Social and Emotional Well-Being Regional Centres. Because of the burden of mental illness in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, additional initiatives are required to support, train and ensure appropriate referral and treatment options for Indigenous clients.

When will the initiative conclude?

  • The initiative will be reviewed in the 2011-12 Budget.

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