Why is this important?The demand for psychological services in rural and regional Australia is growing. A key barrier to accessing services is the scarcity of mental health professionals in these areas. Enhanced telehealth arrangements will enable Australians who live in rural and regional Australia to claim a Medicare rebate for video consultations with psychologists and other health professionals.
This improved access will allow people in need of psychological services to connect more promptly with clinicians. Psychologists will be able to deliver by videoconference up to seven of 10 sessions under Medicare rebatable mental health plans, referred by GPs.
Who will benefit?People who might otherwise have not been able to take up psychological services because of where they live will have access to services from their home location via videoconference.
They will no longer have the inconvenience, time and expense of having to travel to larger regional centres or major cities for sessions with their psychologist.
Psychological services via telehealth will be available for patients living in Modified Monash Model regions four to seven. These regions cover smaller country towns – for example, Collie, WA, Castlemaine, Victoria, Dalby, Queensland and Young, NSW – and remote and very remote locations – for example, Strahan, Tasmania, Tarcoola, SA, and Cobar, NSW. This will ensure that the services go to areas with the biggest access challenges, not to larger regional centres that are more likely to have resident psychologists and other health professionals.