29 July 2020
Specialist mental health clinicians will collaborate on-scene with Lake Illawarra police and ambulance services to treat people experiencing a mental health crisis thanks to the expansion of a ground-breaking evidence-based program.

Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor today announced a phased expansion of the Police Ambulance Clinical Early Response (PACER) model into Lake Illawarra Police District as part of a $1.12 million investment in virtual mental health care. 

“This innovative collaboration between police and clinicians means people in a mental health emergency will get the help they need in the community without having to go to an emergency department,” Mrs Taylor said. 

“This expansion is part of a wider effort to tailor the program to meet the diverse needs of regional and rural NSW using both face-to-face and virtual mental health services.”

Member for Kiama Gareth Ward welcomed the announced expansion of the model for Lake Illawarra Police District saying it will be a great investment in our region. 

“I am delighted to see further assistance made available in our region for mental health emergencies by our incredible police and local mental health clinicians who provide help to members of our community,” Mr Ward said. 

“This is a fantastic investment in our region and it will go a long way to support rural and regional communities.”

Lake Illawarra Police District Acting Superintendent Dan Richardson said the program will build on exceptional results from a recent trial by the Wollongong Police District.

“During this trial, the majority of people supported by a PACER clinician were referred to mental health services, allowing first responders greater capacity to care for more community members,” Mr. Richardson said.

PACER mental health clinician Chris Scott said the investment will mean his team will be equipped with the resources to reach more people across the District.

“The police cover a large area, so we rely on technology to support as many first responders as possible,” said Mr. Scott.

This investment is part of the $73 million package 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.