Boost for mental health services in the bush
People living in rural and remote Australia will now have improved access to psychological services under a new telehealth initiative. A major barrier to rural residents accessing vital mental health treatment will be removed with introduction of a new Medicare rebate. This will apply to online videoconferencing mental health consultations with psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists. Under the new expanded arrangements for the Better Access program, up to seven of the ten sessions currently available through Medicare mental health plans will be available via telehealth. One of the first four sessions will be face to face. This new initiative significantly reduces the inconvenience, time and expense of having to travel to larger regional centres.
Upgrade under way: The next step has been taken in upgrading one of the key east-west transcontinental road links across Australia, with the Coalition Government formally approving $100 million for 13 high priority upgrade projects on the Outback Way. The funding delivers on the Coalition’s 2016 election commitment to upgrade the 2,700-kilometre route crossing Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Around 210 kilometres of Outback Way will be sealed and widened by mid-2021, including 182 kilometres which is currently unsealed.