The Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network (The PHN) has announced funding of $350,000 to recruit and retain mental health practitioners in LGA’s within the HNECC PHN area, deemed to have the greatest need for increased mental health services.
The funding is being offered in two components:
- 10 x Mental Health Workforce Relocation Grants of $25,000
- Four x Clinical Supervision Incentive payments of $25,000
The Mental Health Workforce Relocation Grants seek to enhance opportunities for service providers to attract and retain allied health professionals including appropriately qualified, registered, and accredited mental health professionals. Grants are available to suitably qualified professionals who currently work outside of the HNECC PHN regions and wish to relocate to a nominated Local Government Area in the Hunter, Mid-Coast, New England and North West regions.
The additional $100,000 in funding will be allocated to current service providers to facilitate clinical supervision for the junior mental health workforce.
The PHN Chief Executive Officer, Richard Nankervis, said workforce availability and sustainability are emerging challenges across the region. “With regional areas experiencing the combined effects of COVID and repeated natural disasters, established mental health services across our region are over-prescribed. This issue is exacerbated by the challenges of attracting and retaining a workforce.”
“In consultation with current services providers, it is evident the lack of available, qualified staff is a major barrier to providing adequate services to meet the demand.”
“To help mitigate this in the short to medium term, the PHN are proposing to implement methods of workforce attraction and retention that have been successfully trialled in other areas of the healthcare sector.”
Emma McBride, Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health and Federal Member for Dobell, said, "People regardless of where they live deserve access to strong mental health support and services. Having health care workers in the right places is critical to that delivery."
"These grants will assist in improving the equitable distribution of mental health care workers and improve access for residents of regional New South Wales."
"I look forward to continuing to work with the Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network to ensure the delivery of health care services to the region."
The grants will operate as an open application, followed by an assessment based on meeting the grant criteria. Grants will be offered to 10 mental health service providers located and/or providing face to face services in LGA’s within the HNECC PHN area, deemed to have the greatest need for increased mental health services.
Successful service providers can use the grant funding to undertake recruitment activities to achieve employment of a trained mental health worker to deliver face to face services in the nominated LGA’s. Examples of these activities include wage supplements to enhance leave entitlements, relocation costs, rent or mortgage payments, payment of professional fees or professional development.
The grants are one of several PHN initiatives addressing the maldistribution of the medical and allied health workforce and encouraging health professionals to work in regional, rural, and remote communities.