The Mental Health Branch has a major strategic role with local health districts and specialty networks in developing policy on partnerships with government, community managed organisations (CMOs) and other relevant stakeholders. This includes improving services for people with mental health issues, engaging the government and NGO sector, optimising government and NGO contribution, and evaluating outcomes.​​​​​​

Working with CMOs

NSW Health is reforming the way in which it works with and funds the non-Government sector to deliver health and related services to people and communities across NSW through the development of Partnerships for Health. Read more about the aim of the reforms and the key program milestones.

Partnerships with residential aged care providers

Older People’s Mental Health (OPMH) community services have traditionally provided some support for older people with mental illness and/or severe and persistently challenging behaviours associated with dementia who live in residential care facilities (RACFs), working in partnership with the aged care providers.
This way of working has been expanded over the last 10 years and now three kinds of mental health-residential aged care partnership services have been developed:
  • specialist clinical outreach to generalist, or ‘mainstream’, RACFs
  • Mental Health-Aged Care Partnership Initiative (MHACPI) transition units – specialist 8-10 bed units within a larger RACF
  • Specialist RACFs – residential aged care facilities with a specialist role with older people with mental illness and complex needs
Existing and newly established services include partnerships with
  • Catholic Healthcare
  • Mission Australia
  • Southern Cross Care
  • RSL Lifecare
  • HammondCare
  • St Vincent de Paul

It is expected that these mental health-residential aged care partnership services will continue to expand over the next 10 years under the NSW mental health reforms, the Pathways to Community Living Initiative (PCLI) and the NSW Older People’s Mental Health Service Plan.

These aged care partnership services focus on improving community-based accommodation options for people with severe and persistent mental illness and/or severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. All partnerships involve specialist mental health clinical support to the person and the RACF care team. Some people who receive these aged care partnership services may have been in hospital inpatient facilities for extended periods as there were previously no appropriate places where they could be supported in the community.
An independent evaluation and an economic evaluation of pilot mental health-residential aged care partnership services have highlighted the benefits of these services for older people with complex mental health needs and high satisfaction from carers and families, as well as the cost-effectiveness of these services.

Partnerships with mental health and aged care community care and support programs

By partnering with community care and support programs, OPMH services aim to improve access to mental health and/or aged care community care and supports for older people with mental health problems. Working in this way is important in meeting the complex physical, social, behavioural and psychological needs of an older person with mental health problems.
Further information on the range of community care and support programs is available.

Rural partnerships

Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health (CRRMH)

The Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health (CRRMH) is a major initiative of NSW Health, the University of Newcastle and Greater Western Area Health Service. It aims to improve the mental health of people living in rural NSW through academic leadership, research, education, service development and information services.
The CRRMH facilitates a range of service development projects that enable improved response to people experiencing a mental illness, including:
  • the development of a Rural Mental Health Emergency and Critical Care Plan
  • the Mental Health Emergency Care Learning and Development Program
  • the Farm-Link and the Drought and Climate Change Mental Health Assistance Programs, aimed at improving pathways to care for people in rural communities. 

The Rural Mental Health Emergency and Critical Care Access Plan

The Rural Mental Health Emergency and Critical Care Access Plan provides a framework for the development of emergency mental health services tailored to specific rural and remote conditions: distance, population distribution, workforce and available hospital services, and identifies the resource requirements to meet those needs.

The plan assists rural areas to develop an implementation plan based on networking of services from regional bases to promote:

  • improved safety of transport
  • increased access to specialist mental health advice and support to more remote facilities
  • training of health staff in rural mental health emergencies
  • the appropriateness of services to the level of patient need and environment
  • mainstreaming of mental health emergency care.

Partnerships with government departments

Memorandum of Understanding between NSW Health (including NSW Ambulance) and NSW Police Force 2018

NSW Health (including NSW Ambulance) and the NSW Police Force have agreed on a revised Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) setting out how they will work together when responding to and delivering care and treatment to people accessing these services.
The high-level guiding principles put the wellbeing and safety of the person at the centre of decision-making. It provides a framework that focusses on interagency cooperation to deliver care to patients in a safe environment.
The MOU has been broadened beyond people in a mental health emergency – and now includes a section on situations involving patients in police custody and a section on the management of public safety issues in health settings.

No Exits from Government Services into Homelessness

Many highly vulnerable people leaving government services have multiple and complex needs or experience unpredictable exit pathways that significantly increase their risk of homelessness.

The NSW Homelessness Strategy 2018-2023 emphasises the need for accountability across government so all agencies share responsibility for preventing homelessness and increasing access to supports and services.

No Exits for Government Services into Homelessness - a framework for multi-agency action 2020 outlines agreed service principles for effective and coordinated planning across NSW government agencies to support people to move into stable accommodation with the vision that no one should leave government services into homelessness.

The Framework aligns with, and supports, NSW Health to deliver on commitments to work across the health system and the interface with social care to improve outcomes for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

Partnerships with interstate government departments

A number of agreements between NSW and other States have been developed to allow the cross-border transfer of persons covered by mental health legislation. Find out more about Interstate Transfer Agreements for Forensic and Civil Patients.

Current as at: Tuesday 17 August 2021
Contact page owner: Mental Health Branch