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New RFDS partnership to care for young people in remote WA

A new partnership between Youth Focus and the Royal Flying Doctor Service of WA will help more young people access crucial mental health care in the state’s Murchison and Goldfields regions.

Under an innovative new partnership, the RFDS WA will provide support valued at $206,500 this financial year, enabling Youth Focus to strengthen its psychological care offerings by stationing additional clinicians in selected towns.

In addition to a clinician and a community engagement coordinator who already work in Meekatharra and nearby Aboriginal communities, Youth Focus has employed a second counsellor for the town three days a week.

Another clinician has been employed in Wiluna three days a week, and counsellors will visit Cue, Yalgoo, Sandstone and Paynes Find monthly.

Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Arthur Papakotsias said the partnership would boost outreach services to the towns and allow Youth Focus to help strengthen community knowledge about mental health.

“This partnership is as much about providing expert clinicians on the ground as it is about building rapport and trust with these communities so we can deliver fresh and effective mental health programs,” Mr Papakotsias said.

“Research shows that suicide rates are five times higher in Aboriginal and indigenous communities. For this reason, it is imperative that we have trained clinicians working with local communities to help arrest this heartbreaking trend.”

Royal Flying Doctor Service Western Operations Clinical Lead of GP Services John Fisher said consultation had identified Meekatharra, Wiluna and surrounding communities as being in considerable need of mental health resources.

“As part of our support, we will also provide Youth Focus psychologists access to these remote communities by having them join RFDS physicians on board our aircraft as we deliver essential primary health care across the region,” Dr Fisher said.

“This has the added benefit of providing RFDS physicians with an improved referral pathway when they encounter patients presenting with mental illness during clinics.

“This partnership will serve to strengthen WA’s remote health care networks and will see us deliver end-to-end quality health care to benefit people living, working and travelling in the region.”

The Mid-West Youth Severe program was initially funded by the WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) last year, providing $345,000 over 18 months.

The RFDS WA support will allow for a significant expansion of the service.

Youth Focus has provided counselling and support to young people across WA for the past 25 years. Services also include suicide prevention education in the schools and the community, as well as web-counselling to regional and remote parts of the state.

Last financial year, Youth Focus supported a record number of young people in WA, providing free counselling and assessment services to 3678 young people and school and community education to another 6000.

MEDIA CONTACT: Nicole Cox – 0419 941 443, [email protected]