$27.5m investment a critical boost for psychiatry workforce: RANZCP

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) welcomes the Federal Government’s $27.5 million investment in Australia’s psychiatry workforce, and says it will help ensure all Australians, regardless of where they live, have more access to quality mental health care.

The funding allows for a three year extension of the successful Psychiatry Workforce Program, delivered by the RANZCP, which encourages more medical graduates to pursue psychiatry, supports additional psychiatry training posts and supervisors, and develops a rural psychiatry training pathway and network.

The RANZCP President, Dr Elizabeth Moore, says the investment is a welcome step towards meeting Australia’s growing mental health needs.

“Across Australia, the demand for mental health care is growing, and increasing the number of psychiatrists in the community is vital for providing people the care they need,” says Dr Moore. 

The number of psychiatrists per capita in Australia and New Zealand falls short of many developed nations, and people living in regional, rural and remote areas are disproportionately affected by a lack of access to specialist mental health care.

The program prioritises areas with a greater disparity in psychiatry services, including rural and regional Australia, as well as supporting First Nations trainees.  

“Regional and rural Australia face additional barriers accessing mental health care. The cost, distance, and a general lack of services mean the further you live outside of a major city, the harder it is to get help,” says Dr Moore. 

“We can tangibly change and save lives by attracting, training and retaining psychiatrist to live and work in rural and regional Australia.”

The announcement brings total funding for the program, which began in early 2022, to $39.5 million.

One of the initiatives supported under the Psychiatry Workforce Program is the Psychiatry Interest Forum (PIF), which generates interest in psychiatry as a future career for medical graduates. 

Since launching in 2013 with 208 members, PIF has grown to include over 4900 members across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. On average, 690 members join PIF each year and in 2022, 79% of the 374 new trainees who joined the RANZCP training program were former PIF members. 

PIF continues to focus on encouraging Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander medical students to pursue a career in psychiatry. There are currently 124 PIF members who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and 23 of these past members have chosen to transition into RANZCP training.

The RANZCP has also welcomed the Governments $4.3 million investment in a free national psychiatry advice line, which will allow qualified psychiatrists to provide advice to GPs on a range of topics including medication, treatment, diagnosis and referral pathways - at no charge to the GP or patient.

“This is a welcome investment to increase equity and access to quality care, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Federal Government to meet the current and future mental health needs of all Australians,” says Dr Moore. 

ENQUIRIES: For more information, or to arrange an interview call Lex Guider on +61 423 444 907 or +61 437 315 911, or email media@ranzcp.org.

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For all other expert mental health information visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists is a membership organisation that prepares medical specialists in the field of psychiatry, supports and enhances clinical practice, advocates for people affected by mental illness and advises governments and other groups on mental health care. For information about our work, our members or our history, visit www.ranzcp.org.

In Australia: If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or www.lifeline.org.au or the Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467 or www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au.

In New Zealand: If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline NZ on 0800 543 354 or www.lifeline.org.nz or the Suicide Crisis Helpline on 0508 828 865 or www.lifeline.org.nz/suicide-prevention.

 

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