Psychiatrists launch roadmap critical to the future of rural mental health care

18 May 2021

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has, today, launched the RANZCP Rural Psychiatry Roadmap 2021-31: A pathway to equitable and sustainable rural mental health services committed to addressing and supporting regional, rural, and remote psychiatry training pathways. 

Key driver and Chair of the RANZCP Section of Rural Psychiatry, Associate Professor Mat Coleman, debuted the roadmap at the annual RANZCP Congress, held in Hobart. 

‘Nearly a million Australians living in rural and remote areas will experience a mental health disorder each year’, said Associate Professor Coleman. 

The current mental health system has critical shortcomings, one of the biggest being access to care. ‘Throughout Australia and New Zealand, there is a significant ongoing maldistribution of the psychiatry workforce across regional areas.  

‘Rural psychiatry requires practitioners to have broad knowledge and a generalist skill set to meet the demands of regional communities, including being able to work across the lifespan, within a range of clinical, administrative, leadership and educational settings, as compared with their urban colleagues. 

‘This roadmap is a comprehensive guide to creating and developing training pathways to encourage a better distribution of mental health professionals, like psychiatrists, across regional, rural and remote Australia and New Zealand. 

The Rural Psychiatry Roadmap is purpose designed to deliver the RANZCP Fellowship Program in rural locations, with an emphasis on generalist psychiatry, and is intended to maximise training opportunities and increase the availability of rural psychiatrists. 

‘This is a visionary roadmap that sets out a strategic direction and practical recommendations that, actioned over the next decade, will see the establishment of dedicated and sustainable regional, rural and remote training pathways to Fellowship.  

‘The roadmap will help address the current disparity in mental health outcomes for the large and diverse population of Australians and New Zealanders who live outside urban centres. 

‘Importantly, effective implementation of this roadmap will require a commitment to collective action and close partnership from the RANZCP, all levels of government, public and private health services, education, and regulatory bodies. 

‘The RANZCP looks forward to working with these partners over the coming decade to build and support a sustainable rural psychiatry workforce, so that the extent to which people in our community have access to timely and appropriate psychiatric care is not dictated by their postcode 

The RANZCP has received Australian Government funding under the Specialist Training Program for this initiative. 

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

ENQUIRIES: For more information, or to arrange an interview call Sarah Carr on +61 437 315 911, or email