A new pilot program aimed at integrating mental health services with law enforcement is set to be expanded to the Central Coast.
Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor has announced the expansion of the Police Ambulance and Clinical Early Response (PACER) pilot program to the Brisbane Water and Tuggerah Lakes Police Districts as part of $6.1M investment to embed 36 specialist mental health clinicians across 12 Police Area Commands and Districts.
“This ground-breaking collaboration between first responders and clinicians means people in a mental health emergency are more likely to receive appropriate care in the community, rather than an emergency department,” Taylor said.
“(This) is part of a wider effort to adapt the PACER program to work effectively in the diverse regional and rural areas across the state – not only using clinicians on scene but also using virtual mental health services.”
Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast and Member for Terrigal, Adam Crouch, said transporting people experiencing a mental health episode to an emergency department by police can increase stigma and even stop people from seeking help in the future.
“The more people we can treat and support in a familiar environment, the better off the entire Central Coast community will be,” Crouch said.
Brisbane Water Police District Superintendent Tony Joice said the two Commands have more mental health emergency events than any other regional police district in the state, and he hoped the collaboration would reduce pressure placed on first line responders.
“Last year, 5,500 people were taken to the local emergency department with a mental health emergency,” Superintendent Joice said.
“We think this collaboration will lead to better outcomes for both our officers and the individuals in need of assistance and reduce the amount of time spent at the scene.
“The faster we can connect people with the most appropriate support, the more time we can spend serving our community in other areas.”
The investment is part of a $73M suite of mental health measures recently announced by the State Government.
This includes a $20M expansion of virtual mental health services, 216 new mental health staff, additional funding for the NSW Mental Health Line, extra support for Telehealth, funding for extra therapeutic programs to aid recovery in mental health units and a $6M investment in Lifeline to expand its services.
Media release, Jun 19
Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast. Adam Crouch