18 June 2024

Riverina residents now have access to free walk-in mental health care

| Jarryd Rowley
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A new free walk-in mental health service is now available in Wagga. The service is currently based at Mission Australia before it moves to Baylis Street later this year. Photo: Jarryd Rowley.

Two new walk-in Medicare Mental Health Centres will open in Wagga Wagga and Young later this year.

The centres are two of 61 new mental health centres rolling out across Australia, with 22 being located in NSW, and will offer free, safe, on-the-spot care with no referral needed.

The facilities are being delivered as part of a $29.9 million investment to allow more people to have free access to psychologists and psychiatrists nationwide.

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An interim service opened in Wagga Wagga in May co-located with Mission Australia, with the permanent site at 235-241 Baylis Street expected to open later this year.

More than $9.7 million in funding has been allocated to the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network to commission the two centres, which Grand Pacific Health operates.

Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Emma McBride said people in the Riverina deserved adequate mental health care and she was pleased to see work progressing quickly at the Wagga Wagga Medicare Mental Health Centre.

“I am so pleased to be back in the Riverina today and to announce the permanent location for what will now be the Medicare Mental Health Centre,” she said.

“We know the difference it makes to be able to walk in to get care on the spot, free of charge without an appointment and without needing a referral. These centres have in the budget had a boost in funding of close to $30 million to make sure that every centre has access to a psychologist or psychiatrist on call.

“We know that it has been difficult for many people in regional centres to be able to access that expert mental health clinical support and this will be a big boost in access to adults across Australia.”

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Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network acting CEO Narelle Mills detailed the importance of the new mental health facilities, explaining that the new free centres fill in the gaps left by other services.

“Whilst we do have services here in Wagga there is much need for more additional services. Particularly where people can walk in and access,” she said.

“I think the new centres will allow for people to be able to walk in and feel comfortable. They will be greeted by people who understand where they’re coming from and be able to work with them to get access to the services they need.”

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