Specialist mental health clinicians will be embedded in the two Central Coast Police Commands that respond to the highest number of regional mental health emergencies.
Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor today announced the expansion of the Police Ambulance and Clinical Early Response (PACER) pilot program to the Central Coast’s Brisbane Water Police District and Tuggerah Lakes Police District as part of a $6.1 million investment to embed 36 specialist mental health clinicians across 12 Police Area Commands and Districts.
“This ground-breaking collaboration between first responders and clinicians means people in a mental health emergency are more likely to receive appropriate care in the community, rather than an emergency department,” Mrs Taylor said.
“Today’s announcement is part of a wider effort to adapt the PACER program to work effectively in the diverse regional and rural areas across the state – not only using clinicians on scene but also using virtual mental health services.”
Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast and Member for Terrigal Adam Crouch said the $1 million investment is a critical step towards integrating mental health services with law enforcement.
“Transporting people experiencing a mental health episode to an emergency department by police can increase stigma and even stop people from seeking help in the future,” Mr Crouch said.
“The more people we can treat and support in a familiar environment, the better off the entire Central Coast community will be.”
Brisbane Water Police District’s Superintendent Tony Joice said the two districts have more mental health emergency transports than any other regional police district in the state, and he hoped the collaboration would reduce pressure placed on first line responders.
“Last year 5,500 people were taken to the local emergency department with a mental health emergency,” Superintendent Joice said.
“We think this collaboration will lead to better outcomes for both our officers and the individuals in need of assistance, and reduce the amount of time spent at the scene.
“The faster we can connect people with the most appropriate support, the more time we can spend serving our community in other areas.”
This investment is part of the $73 million suite of mental health measures recently announced by the NSW Government. This includes a $20 million expansion of virtual mental health services, 216 new mental health staff, additional funding for the NSW Mental Health Line, extra support for Telehealth, funding for extra therapeutic programs to aid recovery in mental health units and a $6 million investment in Lifeline to expand their invaluable service.