Work Underway To Open Doors to Coordinated Mental Health Care

An exciting event which will result in easier access to mental health services, including psychiatry, continues in Coffs Harbour today (June 14).

People experiencing mental illness have a range of health and social needs. Not only are there gaps in services, additionally the services available are often fragmented and lack coordination.

In a first for NSW, internationally renowned experts, mental health professionals, GPs, people with lived experience of mental health conditions, representatives from community service organisations and staff from community health came together to be “one team”.

“Yesterday wasn’t a ‘tap each other on the back for a successful talk fest’,” said Dusty Dempsey, a community member with lived experience of mental health issues.

“I’ve been struggling with mental health since I was a teenager and yesterday seemed to me to be a step closer to listening to a consumer’s perspective.”

The two-day Mental Health Symposium includes presentations from scholars on various models of mental health care. Stories of lived experience are reinforcing the message that current model/s need to be improved. 

“This is a collaboration between three Primary Health Networks in NSW, working with international and national scholars”, said Dr Vahid Saberi, Chief Executive of the North Coast Primary Health Network.

“We brought together consumers, clinicians and service providers to decide how best to collaborate to provide good care to some of the most vulnerable people in our community, those experiencing severe mental illness”.

 The material coming out of the two-day Symposium will be used to collaboratively develop a model that is best suited to the Australian regional and rural context. The model will also strengthen cross-agency collaboration as well as bolster psychiatry, general practice and allied psychological services.

 Information gathered during the Symposium will also be used to map mental health care blueprints for the NSW North Coast, the Murrumbidgee and Western NSW.

 The Symposium is being run by North Coast Primary Health Network’s Centre for Healthcare Knowledge & Innovation, in partnership with Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network and Western NSW Primary Health Network.


NCPHN work alongside community members and health professionals to improve access to well-coordinated quality health care. The aim is to work together to transform the healthcare system and reduce health inequities.

NCPHN work begins by gaining an understanding of health care needs of the North Coast. This needs assessment involves the community, clinicians and service providers and is available for all to use. The group use this information to work with health professionals and community members to find gaps and facilitate local solutions.

NCPHN does this by commissioning services – this is a new way of working together to design services that best meet the community’s needs.

Our priorities are

1.      Better mental health and emotional well-being

2.      Closing the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

3.      Improving our population’s health and well-being

4.      Building a highly skilled and capable health workforce

5.      Improving the integration of health services through electronic and digital health platforms

6.      Improving the health and well-being of older people

For more information, go to: