Community Affairs Committee
Wednesday 15 February 2012
Senator WRIGHT: We know that some groups are at high risk of experiencing mental illness. For example, some of the groups that I am aware of are people in immigration detention, Indigenous Australians or Aboriginal Australians, people living in regional, rural and remote areas and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community. I am interested in whether or not the department are targeting any high-risk groups in your service delivery strategy. If so, what groups would they be, and what are the programs or services in terms of actually identifying particularly high-risk groups and working out what can be done for them?
Ms Halton: The officers can talk about a number of examples. I would make an observation to you that, for example, in the approach we have to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, there is a long history of having identified particular risks and the need to respond specifically. If I can give you as an example the Bringing them home work and particularly the need to focus on emotional, social wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as doing very specific work on suicide, what you will see in a number of our programs—the team can talk to you about the mental health program writ large—is a number of these very specific challenges and problems being tackled, sometimes in the context of a particular program.
Ms Campion: To give you an overview of some of the initiatives that are being implemented at the moment, Ms Nicholls mentioned that the ATAPS program, with the additional funding in the budget, was provided to specifically target hard-to-reach groups or groups that are not necessarily best served through Better Access. They are Indigenous Australians, children and their families, and other hard-to-reach groups. That includes some rural and remote areas. Also, through the Taking Action to Tackle Suicide package, we have provided some funding. I think around $30 million over five years has been set aside to focus on particular community based approaches, targetingparticular groups. The initial funding that we have provided there is $1.1 million to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Alliance to undertake a project there that Mr Mackay can explain to you, and $6 million of that package has also been set aside for Indigenous-specific suicide prevention activities. Those are some examples. I might hand over to Ms Nicholls and Mr Mackay to add to that.
Ms Nicholls: The one that I would add is in relation to the Program of Assistance for Survivors of Torture and Trauma. The name pretty well tells you what the program is about. We provide funding to some very specific services who have specific expertise in this area. There is a network of eight not-for-profit specialist torture and trauma rehabilitation agencies. They provide a range of supports to people who have experienced torture and trauma before coming to Australia.
Senator WRIGHT: On that: are they people who are not in immigration detention but they are in the Australian community?
Ms Nicholls: They are in the community; that is right.
Senator WRIGHT: Do you have any oversight at all or any input into mental health programs for people who are actually in immigration detention and whose claims for asylum are still being processed?
Ms Nicholls: The Department of Immigration and Citizenship has responsibility for that. We liaise with them in relation to the various programs but they have primary—
Ms Halton: They do not have primary carriage; they have carriage.
In the Supplementary Budget Estimates week, Penny Wright asked the Department of Health and Aging questions relating to the following mental health issues. Click on the links below to read the transcripts.