Page 1679 - Week 06 - Thursday, 3 June 2021

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environment and the community, to provide sustainable long-term outcomes—the step-down element of the service.

Investment in subacute services such as step-up step-down is part of a broader commitment to shift the focus of mental health investment away from acute care and to provide care as early in life, illness and episode as possible. The six-bed facility offers a six-week program of support for people with the aim of providing a safe alternative to hospital admission. Southside Community Step Up Step Down is a short-term community bed-based mental health service operating in a comprehensive rehabilitative two-week residential and four-week community outreach program where Canberra Health Services provides clinical services, alongside provision of non-clinical residential support services by Stride and outreach community support services by Woden Community Services.

As of 12 May this year the step-up step-down is being fully utilised. Infrastructure work is underway which will deliver additional acute beds by mid-2021. There will always be a need for this type of support, and the government is committed to ensure we have a range of appropriate options to meet all mental health needs.

The delivery of more acute beds is through the refurbishment of Ward 12B at Canberra Hospital to create a purpose-built 10-bed mental health low-dependency unit, with internal capacity to increase to 14 beds if required. In addition, the existing Adult Mental Health Unit will undergo internal works to create the capacity for the existing 10 high-dependency unit beds to increase to 18 beds, if required. The infrastructure work will mean a total of 56 acute mental health beds at the Canberra Hospital site. In addition, the unit will have flexibility to match bed availability to patient need through the ability increase HDU by 80 per cent, if required.

The work of the Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing has also continued its success over the past year. Since its establishment in 2019, the office has delivered on a range of initiatives towards the territory-wide vision of a kind, connected and informed community working together to promote and protect the mental health and wellbeing of all. The office has conducted reviews into children and young people in the ACT and older persons’ mental health and wellbeing, which were identified as priority groups in the office’s workplan for 2019-21.

The review into children and young people has provided valuable insights into the landscape for children and young people in the ACT, the challenges, and issues they are currently facing, and the factors that impact their mental health and wellbeing. The ACT government is currently undertaking key initiatives as a result of this review, including making services more accessible, increasing education and awareness of mental health, and supporting those individuals experiencing moderate to severe mental illness. A notable example of this is the youth navigation portal that is currently being developed and is due to be launched later this year.

The review of older persons mental health and wellbeing highlighted the strengths and weaknesses in the current older persons mental health service system, and the office is currently developing an older person’s mental health and wellbeing strategy. This strategy will guide the ACT government on initiatives that can be implemented to enhance the mental health and wellbeing outcomes of older Canberrans.

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