QAMH welcomes the opportunity to provide input into the Unleashing the Potential of our Health Workforce – Scope of Practice Review (the Review). While we acknowledge this Review is primarily concerned with the clinical primary care workforce, QAMH believe that mobilising and integrating the Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Sector workforce to support primary care services holds significant potential to optimise the use of our nation’s scarce workforce resources, enhance the delivery of person-centred outcomes and address the mental health crisis that we are currently facing across the nation. We note that the National Mental Health Workforce Strategy has – to date – missed a significant opportunity to take advantage of the vast pool of specialised and complementary psychosocial supports represented by our Sector. This omission is confusing given the well documented gap of those missing out on psychosocial supports and the work currently underway to quantify that gap under the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreement.
Our submission offers achievable solutions which will ease the burden on clinical primary care and provide more sustainable outcomes for those currently missing out on care. It outlines the case for change to fundamentally redesign the mental health ecosystem to one that better supports the large cohort of people experiencing mild-moderate mental illness currently accessing primary care. We propose that this is done by effectively resourcing and expanding contracting through Primary Health Networks, and shifting to a new model of care that utilises social prescribing by Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Sector link workers, to complement primary care services and reduce demand on General Practitioners (GPs) and Allied Health practitioners. This shift will not only provide a much-needed early intervention strategy, but free GPs and Allied Health Professionals up to effectively operate within their own scope of practice.