HSUWA welcomes the announcement by the WA Health Minister today that the State Government will fund the establishment of four community based Acute Care and Response Teams (ACRT Teams) to support WA children and adolescents who are seriously unwell.

HSUWA Members working as Clinical Psychologists, Social Workers, Occupational Therapists and administrative staff with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Community Centres have strongly advocated for this measure over many years after they were disbanded by the Barnett Government 14 years ago.

These ACRT Teams are a critical missing link in supporting the most mentally unwell children and adolescents in WA.

Public mental health services for children and adolescents have not kept up with demand over the past 10 years. The increasing pressures on staff due to significantly increased demand at our Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services in both the metro and regional areas is unsustainable and has led to an exodus of highly skilled and much needed staff.

Strong and consistent HSUWA Member advocacy over the past three years has led to more funding and additional positions in CAMHS services.  However, the promised progress towards improving services has been too slow and inconsistent.

HSUWA looks forward to more details about the timing and implementation of the ACRT Teams and Members will be meeting with the Mental Health Commissioner.

It is critical that this new aspect of the service commence as soon as possible to help reduce the high clinical workloads experienced by clinicians and the distress long waitlists cause patients. The State Government is responsible for ensuring these services have the capacity to deliver the assessment and treatment our most mentally unwell children and adolescents need.

HSUWA welcomes the commitment and looks forward to the ACRT Teams addressing some of the critical demand pressures in WA.

Quotes attributable to HSUWA Secretary Naomi McCrae:

“Our Members have advocated tirelessly since 2021 for improvements to CAMHS, and this funding commitment is welcome and much needed. Without this missing link of the ACRT Teams between our Community Clinics and the Perth Children’s Hospital, families in the metro area had nowhere to go for help after hours apart from the Emergency Department.”

“It is very welcome that this funding is designed to start fixing a missing link in services. We must support the experienced professional staff, our clinical psychologists, occupational therapists and social workers, providing critical care who have been buckling under the weight of service demand for years.”

“The State Government must turn its attention to the other recommendations within the ICA Taskforce Report, and implement strategies to build and retain this vital workforce.”

HSUWA is a growing Union of thousands of trusted and respected health professionals who provide critical clinical, administrative, and technical expertise across WA’s public and private health services. Members work across all of Allied Health, Pharmacy, Pathology and Medical Imagining as well as Health Administration. You can read more about the HSUWA at hsuwa.com.au

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