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Announcement of the relocation of the Psychology Support Section: North Queensland to Lavarack Barracks: speech, Townsville.

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THE HON. GREG COMBET MP Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science

Thursday, 27 August 2009


Lavarack Barracks, Townsville

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SPEAKER: Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science, the Hon Greg Combet AM MP Good afternoon,

I am very pleased to be able to announce today the relocation of the Psychology Support Section - North Queensland from the Townsville CBD to accommodation at Lavarack Barracks.

The move of Psychology Support Section (PSS) - North Queensland to an appropriate facility at Lavarack Barracks is critical for providing front-line mental health care for ADF members. This facility ensures that ADF members on this base will have greater access to Mental Health Professionals.

It also facilitates greater access for our dedicated Mental Health Professionals on base to other health care professionals such as nurses, doctors, social workers, and chaplains. The aim of this is to improve the continuity of care, and encourage greater information sharing in the treatment of mental health conditions of ADF members.

The next step will be the transition of the Psychology Support Section (PSS) into the forefront of primary mental health care on Lavarack Barracks, to become a true multidisciplinary mental health team.

The transition of the Psychology Support Section (PSS) - North Queensland from a psychology services focused unit to a true multidisciplinary mental health team is the first step in a series of events that will unfold in Townsville over the next 12 months as a result of the Dunt Review.

As you would be aware, my predecessor, the Hon Warren Snowdon MP and the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, the Hon Alan Griffin MP, contracted Professor David Dunt, a public health specialist and epidemiologist with expertise in health program evaluation, to conduct a review of ‘Mental Health Care in the ADF and Transition to Discharge’.

The Government wanted the Review to examine the gaps in access to, and delivery of, mental health support, especially for those transitioning out of the ADF.

Professor Dunt’s review made 52 recommendations to reform and enhance the delivery of ADF mental health programs and discharge transition services.

Defence agreed to 49 of the 52 recommendations and partially agreed to the remaining three recommendations.

As part of this the Rudd Government has allocated 83 million dollars in funding over the next four years to start a major program of reform across Defence.

Reform will include providing improved mental health governance and policy, enhancing the mental health workforce, improving mental health training for ADF personnel and providers, enhancing prevention strategies, enhancing mental health rehabilitation and transition services, increasing the involvement of families in mental health care initiatives, and developing better facilities from which mental health services will be delivered.

In addition to the new Primary Care Multidisciplinary Mental Health Team, a new Regional Mental Health Team will be established on this base within the next twelve months.

The Regional Mental Health Team will provide secondary level mental health services, including regional treatment programs, support to primary care teams and supervision of more complex cases, and the coordination and delivery of mental health training for ADF personnel. This team will be created with a Coordinator and a minimum of three other mental health professionals, including a clinical psychologist.

In conclusion, may I say that this Government takes the mental health of ADF members very seriously.

The relocation of the Townsville based psychology section to Lavarack Barracks is an example of how committed we are to actioning initiatives to further improve this essential care.

The establishment in the very near future of the Primary Care Multidisciplinary Mental health Team will be another important milestone and, with the establishment in the next twelve months of the Regional Mental Health Team, we will ensure that our Townsville-based ADF members receive comprehensive, timely and expert mental health care.

Please note Defence Media has a new phone number: 02 6127 1999.

The existing number will be automatically diverted to the new number for three months. The existing after-hours duty mobile 0408 498 664 will remain.

Media contacts: Rod Hilton (Greg Combet): 02 6277 4771 or 0458 276 619 Defence Media Liaison: 02 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664