Joint media release
The Hon Mark Butler
Minister for Mental Health and Ageing
Minister for Social Inclusion
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Mental Health Reform
Leon Bignell MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing
Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity
$5 million boost to mental health care services in South Australia
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, and South Australian Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing, Leon Bignell, today launched a telehealth initiative that will improve the way mental healthcare is delivered across South Australia.
The $5 million SA Digital Telehealth Network project is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and South Australian Governments under the Digital Regions Initiative.
The project will:
- Provide over 100 new video conferencing units to deliver better call and image quality to over 80 sites across the state
- Reduce patient travel time
- Enable health services to be provided online
- Connect patients with family members who live in different places
- Deliver round the clock emergency triage and liaison services
“People in rural and remote locations across South Australia now have access to high definition telehealth facilities, which allow psychiatrists and other mental health professionals in Adelaide to provide vital health services to those who need it, when they need it,” Senator Conroy said.
“People in country South Australia are now able to access health services closer to home while family and carers can provide support without having to travel vast distances.
“As the National Broadband Network is rolled out across Australia, services like this will be even better and more widely available.”
Minister for Mental Health, Mark Butler, said the delivery of mental health services via telehealth across South Australia is a good step towards meeting the needs of Australians living with mental illness.
“Through the introduction of these services, the project will reduce patient travel time, improve patient care through regular check-ups, and increase telehealth consultations.”
“This complements the Government’s e-mental health strategy, including mindhealthconnect.com.au which provides a trustworthy source of information, support and a gateway to therapy for people seeking help for mental health disorders.”
Mr Bignell, who has visited more than 40 hospitals in country South Australia since last year, said the SA Digital Telehealth Network was already making a real difference for people living in regional areas.
“This initiative allows people to receive face-to-face expert health advice from Adelaide-based specialists without having to leave their own communities,” Mr Bignell said.
“I have been hearing great feedback right across the state from patients and hospital staff. People living in rural and regional areas are really embracing telemedicine.”
The Australian Government is co-funding a further 13 projects and three NBN-enabled trials across Australia through the $60 million Digital Regions Initiative. Details can be found at: www.dbcde.gov.au/digitalregions
Date: 24 August 2012
Contact: Adam Sims (Office of Senator Conroy) 0408 258 457
Tim O’Halloran (Office of Minister Butler) 0409 059 617
Monique Paschke (Office of Mr Bignell) 08 8463 6296 or 0422 303 811