South Australian psychiatrists call for urgent investment in rural workforce

South Australian psychiatrists are calling on the State Government to immediately address the critical shortage of mental health care services for rural South Australians. 

Funding for Local Health Networks to employ an additional 12 psychiatrists across rural South Australia would immediately improve the community’s access to mental health while longer term solutions are established. 

The calls come off the back of the Review of Rural Mental Health Services in South Australia, which highlights an alarming lack of investment in rural mental health across the state. 

The government has made considerable steps towards long-term improvements with a commitment for a psychiatrist workforce strategy. The Branch also particularly welcomes SA Health’s acceptance of recommendations for rural mental health to be intrinsically embedded in health planning processes and frameworks, and to develop a Rural Psychiatry Training Pathway (RPTP) for South Australia. 

Urgent investment is still needed for the 29 percent of South Australians currently struggling to access vital care. 

In response to the report, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) South Australian Branch is calling for: 

  1. Rural and remote mental health services to be a priority area for reform
  2. A commitment for a 10-year rural mental health services plan and workforce strategy to supplement the broader 10-year Mental Health Workforce Plan and Psychiatry Workforce Plans currently under development.

Quotes attributable to Dr Patrick Clarke, RANZCP SA Branch Chair: 

“We offer our condolences to the family of the young man who died in the Riverland area and thank them for their courage in fighting for better mental health services in rural and remote South Australia.” 

“Reform takes time, which is cold comfort to the 29 percent of South Australians who are struggling to access mental health care. Funding an additional 12 psychiatrists to work in rural areas would provide immediate relief while longer term solutions are sought.” 

“Your post code should never be what determines your mental health outcomes. Rural South Australians deserve the same access to mental health care as people in Adelaide.” 

“We can’t improve the mental health care for rural South Australians if we don’t have a workforce to provide it. South Australian needs a dedicated rural training pathway to get more psychiatrists living, training and working in rural areas. Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Victoria are already doing this.” 

For 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

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In Aotearoa New Zealand contact Lifeline NZ on 0800 543 354 or or the Suicide Crisis Helpline on 0508 828 865 or


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