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The Daily Advertiser: Wagga mum Linda Burge the first of many to speak on NSW mental health needs as inquiry begins

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Amanda Cohn
NSW Greens MP
21 July 2023

Wagga mum Linda Burge is hoping a government inquiry into the equity, accessibility and delivery of outpatient mental health care across NSW will shine a light on the gaps plaguing the state that are in need of attention.

Outpatient mental health care consists of scheduled appointments a person attends while they continue to reside in their usual home instead of being admitted into a facility.


While access and accessibility to outpatient care itself are limited, Mrs Burge said that isn't where the biggest problem lies, likening access to mental health services in the city to running around a maze.


"We need more services for our kids, especially those under 18," she said.


"And we need more bulk-billing services, there are so many specialists that don't bulk bill anymore."


"People who don't earn a lot of money, who deserve the same access to services, can't access a lot of the services available," she said.


That on top of lengthy waiting lists and having to obtain things like referrals is where Mrs Burge says the focus should be.


Aside from that, finding out what services are available and how to access them is yet another barrier keeping residents from getting the help they need.


"We need to make sure that people are aware of what services are out there that can help them," Mrs Burge said.


"We need to shine a light on where people can go.


"The health care system is a maze of brick walls, they tell you to go here, and then you get told they can't help you and to go there."


The upper house inquiry appoints a portfolio committee to examine outpatient and community mental health services from the perspective of patients and carers.


It will also look into the capacity of state and other community health services including rural, regional and remote NSW.


Inquiry chair, Albury-based MLC Amanda Cohn, said it was established because of the critical importance of outpatient and community mental health services to the health and wellbeing of communities.


"In addition, the committee will examine the accessibility and cultural safety of mental health services, including for First Nations people, CALD communities, LGBTQIA+ people, young people and people with disability, as well as the appropriate and efficient allocation of mental health care workers," Dr Cohn said.


"This is an opportunity for people across NSW to have their experiences heard, and to examine opportunities for meaningful reform."


The committee welcomes submissions from interested stakeholders and members of the community.


The closing date for submissions is September 6.

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Amanda Cohn
NSW Greens MP
21 July 2023


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