Federal Member for Barker Tony Pasin has returned to Federal Parliament in Canberra this week armed with 2,600 signatures to present to Federal Minister for Health, the Hon. Greg Hunt.

The petition requests that Mount Gambier become one of 24 locations around the country to be home to a ‘Head to Health’ satellite centre to service the mental health needs of the Limestone Coast community.

As part of a major mental health reform, the Federal Coalition Government is creating a national network of multidisciplinary mental health treatment centres for adults, youth and children to contribute to addressing the ‘missing middle’ service gap.

Through the 2021-22 Budget, the Government has provided $487.2 million for the initial establishment of 8 new Head to Health adult mental health centres and 24 satellite centres, and ongoing funding for the 8 currently funded centres.

Head to Health centres and satellites, (collectively referred to as sites), are designed to provide a welcoming, low stigma, soft entry point to engagement, assessment and treatment for people who may be experiencing distress or crisis.

Head to Health is also intended to offer immediate, short and medium term episodes of care and service navigation to connect people to ongoing services. It will assist adults seeking help in times of crisis, or as needs emerge, to have access to on-the-spot care, advice and support provided by mental health professionals – without needing a prior appointment.

“Much like the Headspace model, Head to Health sites are intended to complement, not replace or duplicate, mental health services already provided in the community,” Mr Pasin said.

Petition organiser Ben Hood presented Mr Pasin with the petition last week in Mount Gambier.

“The community have sent me a clear message that they want me to fight for a Head to Health site for Mount Gambier and I’m very happy to do so. Mental health is an issue that will impact everyone at one time or another. Giving the community the services required to tackle these individual issues when they arise will make for a happier, healthier Limestone Coast community. The flow on benefits of that are immeasurable,” Mr Pasin said.

Accompanying the 2,600 signatures were a number of letters of support from Limestone Coast community organisations.

Mr Pasin said while the Federal Government had committed to funding the initial 40 sites, he hoped their success would lead to expanded rollout of the network and further opportunities for more locations to be added in coming years.

“If Head to Health becomes as successful as Headspace I’d love to see sites rolled out across communities in Barker,” Mr Pasin said.