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Mental Health and Wellbeing - Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Monday, 6 September 2021

Tags: Mental Health, Children and Young People, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, earlier this year I wrote to you about the case of a young person who was advised they would receive assistance from CAMHS two to three weeks after they were discharged from hospital. Over six weeks passed without any specialist assistance being provided for that person and the services were very desperately needed.

PESRAC recommended that the CAMHS reforms be accelerated and implemented as soon as possible and they set out a number of phases. We've talked about the additional funding in the Budget, which is very welcome. I might have missed it but did you talk about the progress towards completing the phase one initiatives that were meant to be completed this financial year, 2021 22? Specifically, establishing the specialist CAMHS Children in Out of Home Care Service and the establishment of the Youth Early Intervention Service and securing appropriate and contemporary facilities for community outpatient services?

Mr ROCKLIFF - We are implementing all the recommendations of the CAMHS review, all seven recommendations, and we've committed to fully fund phases one and two of the Government's response to the CAMHS review. To date, the following progress has been made against recommendations: employment of a statewide speciality CAMHS director and one of the key recommendations, as you may recall, from the report released in October last year was the need for a statewide service. That's been done with the employment of a CAMHS director.

Employment of a project officer to begin the implementation of service for out-of-home care for children; employment of a project officer to begin implementation of the Youth Mental Health Service; further consultations with services including perinatal, Child Health and Parenting Service (CHaPS), Indigenous Health and Paediatrics has occurred. The review of services provided by CAMHS is ongoing and the review of the recent major increase in referrals from CAMHS is ongoing. I've outlined some of these issues, including the top five priorities of the statewide speciality director in my previous answer -

Dr WOODRUFF - It was about those three things and whether they'd be completed this year.

Mr ROCKLIFF - Dale, do you want to talk about that?

Mr WEBSTER - They are underway and Professor McDermott has set them as his highest priorities. The project managers are in place and we've started to work. The important precursor work, Professor McDermott started almost on day one, starting to work with the Department of Communities, particularly Child Youth and Family Services bringing them into the whole planning and model. They can say that there the deputy secretary Children Youth and Family Services in Communities is now part of the steering committee for the reforms and the work is progressing in conjunction with her office to get these done. I expect they will be in place this financial year as a priority.

Dr WOODRUFF - These being the three things I asked the question about?

Mr WEBSTER - Yes, which are three of the five priorities that Professor McDermott has set himself.

Dr WOODRUFF - In relation to the Mental Health Assessment Unit, I asked about that in a previous question, through you Mr Webster, and talked about the fact that was in progress. Is it the case that there wouldn't be a young person released from an emergency department without a mental health assessment, like the person I wrote to you about, who had attempted suicide and was in severe distress? Before that unit comes on line, what has changed in the practices in ED so that wouldn't happen again?

Mr WEBSTER - In relation to child and adolescent mental health, what has changed is that Professor McDermott has changed the model of care for assessment of children and follow-up of children within that short period of time. He immediately took action in relation to that.

In regard to the overall assessment, what has changed is that already we have two steps. There is the initial four hours which is usually used to make sure that people are medically stable or in parallel a lot of the time by assessment by consultant staff into the ED. These people probably don't need inpatient care but it is going to extend into many hours of observation. That is when they are moved to the short-stay unit. The short-stay unit is an assessment unit.

It is a long-term assessment because the nature of mental health conditions is that they don't lend themselves to the emergency room type assessment. It is important that we create that other environment. We want to improve that other environment to have two steps within the unit.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you for that.