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Med J Aust. 2007 Jun 4;186(11):587-9.

New money for mental health: will it make things better for rural and remote Australia?

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Greater Green Triangle University Department of Rural Health, Flinders and Deakin Universities, Warrnambool, VIC.


New Australian government funding for the Better Outcomes in Mental Health Care initiative is a significant step forward for mental health, with general practitioners now able to offer direct referrals to psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists and Aboriginal health workers. Incentives for better teamwork between GPs and other mental health professionals have been introduced, but may have unintended consequences, including an exacerbation of workforce shortages in rural and remote areas. Possible solutions to these shortages include rural scholarships for students in the mental health professions; recruitment and retention of students coordinated by university departments of rural health; better access to continuing professional development; and federally funded rural positions and additional financial incentives for rural mental health practitioners.

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