Western Sydney mental health specialists to join first responders

Photo courtesy NSW Police Force.

Police and Ambulance responders who attend mental health situations will join forces with a specialised mental health clinician who can provide support and immediate assistance at the scene.

This collaboration is known as the Police Ambulance and Clinical Early Response (PACER) program, originated from South Eastern Sydney Local Health District as a pilot program and is now being implemented across the state.

This partnership between mental health staff and the first responders allows mental health experts to recognise, assess and take immediate action to ensure appropriate safety and care are provided to our community.

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) mental health services acting executive director Carolyn Fozzard said the program will significantly reduce emergency department presentations and de-escalate any rising situations.

“Our mental health staff will be deployed with Blacktown Police Local Command and NSW Ambulance when there is a psychiatric incident reported.” Carolyn said.

WSLHD mental health services have received $500,000 funding as part of a $6.1 million investment by the NSW Government to implement this program throughout the Blacktown Local Government Area.

“We are currently in the process of recruiting staff and are confident that by September our staff will be working with these first responders,” Carolyn said.

“This joint program is a benefit to health services, community and Police who will be free to attend to other serious matters.”

The PACER program will expand to Campbelltown, Nepean, Northern Beaches, Sutherland Shire, Blacktown, Eastern Beaches, Kuring-gai, Metro Combined consisting of Kings Cross/Surry Hills/City of Sydney, South Sydney and Bankstown Police Area Commands with recruitment underway for the specialist mental health clinicians from July 2020.

This investment is part of the $73 million suite of mental health measures recently announced by the NSW Government. This includes 216 new mental health staff, additional funding for the NSW Mental Health Line, extra support for Telehealth, funding for extra therapeutic programs to aid recovery in mental health units and a $6 million investment in Lifeline to expand their invaluable service.