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Mental health funding boost after stabbing massacre

Easier access to services and more people to staff them are part of a $111 million NSW mental health spend following the Sydney stabbing rampage linked to schizophrenia in which six people lost their lives.

Community mental health teams will receive funding for an additional 35 staff, allowing for better case management and extended hours to provide outreach, including in regional areas.

Patients will be better connected to services through a “front door” model aimed at providing quicker care amid record-high emergency department attendances.

Cracks in the NSW mental health system came to attention in April after a stabbing attack at a Bondi Junction shopping centre in which Joel Cauchi, a 40-year-old man with a history of mental illness, was also shot dead by a police inspector.

NSW Premier Chris Minns speaks to the media (file)NSW Premier Chris Minns speaks to the media (file)

Chris Minns says mental health services are a vital lifeline. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

An extra $18 million has been allocated to a coronial inquiry into the massacre, with a focus on the adequacy of mental health care.

Tuesday’s announcement is an important step in providing increased care, Premier Chris Minns says.

“We know people across the state are doing it tough right now and for many in our community, mental health services are a vital lifeline when they need it most,” he said.

People with persistent mental illness and complex care needs will have support from 25 additional staff providing alternatives to long-term hospital care under a $40 million program over four years.

More than $2 million will go to the Mental Health Review Tribunal to modernise operations and records amid continued growth in patients and proceedings.

More liaisons will be funded to conduct outreach to people at risk of or experiencing homelessness to access services and find housing.

Mental health theme portrait (file)Mental health theme portrait (file)

Mental health brought 124,467 people to NSW emergency departments last year. (AP PHOTO)

People needing mental health support will be able to access assessment advice from specialist clinicians and be connected to relevant services with $39 million over four years aimed at keeping people out of emergency departments.

Mental health brought 124,467 people to EDs last year and about a quarter could have received support from other primary care settings, the government said.

NSW recently notched record-high emergency attendances with more than 810,201 people seeking care in the first quarter of 2024 following falls in the number of general practitioners.

Mental Health Minister Rose Jackson said the new funding would help provide care when most needed.

“This is an important step in the NSW government’s approach to mental health support but it is not the final one,” she said, flagging more interventions.

NSW spends $2.7 billion on mental health a year, about half the budget of the state’s police force.

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