IAHA Media Release – Workforce response to mental health needed
Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), the national organisation for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health workforce, stand with our colleagues the Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association (AIPA) and Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia in their call for Government commitments to be backed by action. On 15 May, National Cabinet endorsed the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan.
The Commonwealth designated $48.1M for the Plan, adding to around $500M already committed for mental health and suicide prevention since January. The need for appropriately resourced and targeted mental health services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was stark before the COVID crisis. The evidence of the impact of longstanding economic and social disadvantage and trauma on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is overwhelming and continually noted. This is the situation COVID19 has amplified. It didn’t come on us suddenly. Nor has the evidence of this need been hidden.
On 18 May, AIPA and the Centre for Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP) called for an Indigenous phone help-line, operated under Indigenous leadership and with Indigenous counsellors and mental health practitioners available 24/7. AIPA has been advocating for such a service since 2016. An Indigenous specific phone help-line must be a priority and should not need to be continually argued when the evidence is clear. Nor should we have to call again for urgent, sustained investment to build the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and social and emotional wellbeing workforce. So many reports and plans have already identified the need to do so, with little to no implementation or investment in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led solutions developed by the experts themselves.
“The Indigenous help-line is a necessary and obvious investment. We have a strong, skilled and qualified existing workforce in mental health and social and emotional wellbeing, and IAHA is working hard in continuing to grow the next generation of the mental health workforce”. said Donna Murray, IAHA CEO.