In September 2017, Elena and Kirsten visited Queanbeyan and sat down with some local people to talk about what is happening in this area in mental health and wellbeing. Some of the key themes that came out of the consultation were: a lack of services in regional and rural areas; difficulty in getting access to a psychiatrist and that the NSW/ACT border caused some unique challenges for the area.

Service provision in general was a running theme throughout this consultation. In particular, one woman spoke about her experience of living in a metropolitan area compared to a more regional area and the difference in services available, for example a lack of services for young people in the South Coast area.

 “My experience living in a regional and rural community is that there’s a lot of young people with mental health issues that are not getting the support they need because the services just aren’t available, and they don’t really have the means to be travelling from place to place”

People talked about difficulty getting access to a psychiatrist in Queanbeyan because of the small number of psychiatrists in the area. It was also difficult to access a psychiatrist across the border in Canberra because of the referral system and people who lived in the ACT were often prioritised. People talked about how many psychiatrists seemed to be moving from the public sector into private practice, which made accessibility and affordability more challenging.

 “It’s not unless you’re living in Canberra, you have a Canberra address, you can access the wider variety of options. So, we’re quite limited here in what we can and can’t do”

We had a dynamic discussion about what needs to change and areas Being could focus on in the future. This included advocacy for more services in the community, so people can access support before needing to go into hospital. People talked about more realistic options for regional areas, such as a mental health access line within the area. People were concerned about the lack of evidence base around treatment and suggested that there needs to be more of an evidence base in mental health and that this can be used to advocate for change.

Thank you to everyone who attended the consultation and for your feedback.

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