The Liberal and Nationals Government will invest $19.7 million for Royal Far West (RFW) to expand their Telecare services, meaning allied health services like speech therapy, occupational therapy and psychology that aren’t available locally, can be delivered to more children in regional and rural Australia.
Minister for Regional Services Senator Bridget McKenzie said that the funding will now mean that Royal Far West can more than double their reach across Australia over the next seven years, meaning over 30,000 children, parents and teachers will benefit from RFW Telecare.
“This funding is a game changer for rural and remote communities, with Telecare services meaning that no child whether they live in the most remote corner of Western Australia, or here in Bowraville, must go without an essential health service,” Minister McKenzie said.
“We know that 100,000 children across regional and rural Australia are developmentally vulnerable, and can’t access the services they require because of their remoteness.
“The Telecare Service from RFW means that children, their families and schools can access services that can help them tackle these issues without having to drive hundreds of kilometres to larger cities to access these services.
“The best action a Government can help with in this area is early intervention to address mental health issues – and this program is targeted at primary school aged children (before they are old enough for Headspace).”
Children and young people in rural and remote Australia are more likely to experience poor mental health with up to 53% of children being developmentally vulnerable.
As well, a psychologist in remote Australia has a clinical load over 12 times higher than a psychologist in a major city.
Lindsay Cane, CEO of Royal Far West said that country children are more likely to experience developmental problems and one in three country children are unable to access the health services they need.
“The reality of not having access to healthcare services from a young age is that children can end up later in life being homeless, unemployed, incarcerated or suffering from personal difficulties. The best investment the Government can make is in early intervention,” Ms Crane said.
“We’re proud to partner with the Federal Government to deliver a solution to a wicked problem – ensuring thousands of children across rural Australia will no longer miss out on the services they need.”
“This funding will allow RFW to more than double our reach – and go to the areas of greatest need across the country – including the electorate of Cowper,” Pat Conaghan said, the Nationals candidate for Cowper.
“I know that RFW has been trialling, developing and embedding this service in NSW for the past 5 years, and this funding from the Liberal and Nationals Government validates the need for this vital service across rural and remote Australia.
“I know that the Bowraville community has been a strong supporter of RFW for many decades and this should come as no surprise.”