We warmly welcome you to Albury, NSW from Wednesday 11 – Friday 13 October 2017 for the 9th Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium. This year our theme will be Impacts & Outcomes, Putting People First.
The symposium is designed for consumers, carers, clinicians, managers and all those working in rural mental health. It is applicable to those from Primary Health Networks, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health, non-government organisations, government health services and private providers. It is a great conference to establish and develop links across these service types and work together to advance rural mental health.
The National Mental Health Commission, in its review, recognised the importance of rural mental health with 6.9 million (29%) Australians living in remote, rural and regional communities. The number of Australians experiencing mental health problems in rural and remote areas is comparable to that in Sydney and Melbourne combined. However, rural and remote communities face challenges with limited access to support services, and high suicide rates.
Anxiety, depression, stress, grief and other mental health problems can often occur with many rural communities being affected by environmental threats and economic downturn. In recent years we have endured severe drought, flooding, bushfires and cyclones, which puts stress on rural and regional farming and business communities.
Thanks to the work of this Symposium, its delegates, and the National Alliance for Rural and Remote Mental Health the profile and the importance of rural mental health is receiving more recognition than ever. The anticipated establishment of a Rural Health Commissioner offers further opportunities to influence and improve the mental health of rural communities.
With the launch of the 5th National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan, the Equally Well National Consensus Statement on the physical health of people living with mental illness, and the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Symposium presents and invaluable opportunity to learn, network and collaborate as we seek to understand and apply these initiatives into rural mental health practice.
This year we will examine new and innovative approaches to care, recovery oriented practice, ageing communities, meaningful consumer and carer participation, current academic research, service integration, capacity-building, suicide prevention, physical health and mental illness, E-mental health and working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing.
The symposium will include keynote speakers, concurrent sessions and workshops that develop skills related specifically to the mental health needs of our rural and remote communities, and ways to effectively prepare mental health and other rural human service professionals to meet future challenges.
The symposium last year was our best ever: high quality presentations and great comradery. The symposium has developed in the premier rural mental health meeting in Australia. This year’s two day symposium will be held at the Commercial Club, Albury, with optional half day of workshops on Wednesday 11 October. On behalf of the organising committee we invite you to join with us and be part of this great event in Albury, NSW.
Associate Prof Russell Roberts
Charles Sturt University