CEO: Graeme Kerkin
CEO: Graeme Kerkin Tamera Francis

Domestic and family violence services echo waiting concerns

CONCERNS for wait times for mental health are echoed through Whitsunday Counselling and Support, a local organisation whose core services help those suffering from domestic and family violence.

WCS chief executive officer Graeme Kerkin said due to increased demand, there was about a one- month wait for its help.

"WCS have a increase in demand and have had a considerable wait list," Mr Kerkin said.

"Clients will always receive an initial intake appointment and we do our best to contact those on our wait list while waiting to continually reassess their circumstances."

WCS is not part of the bulk-billing psychologist service through Medicare, which is restricted to psychologist-qualified professionals.

"We are funded for specific program relating to domestic and family violence and sexual assault and specialist family counselling," Mr Kerkin said. "A higher need for mental health services is having a direct flow onto our service needs, particularly with family who have children and young people struggling with mental health needs."

Health service providers were concerned about attracting qualified staff to the Whitsundays, he said.

"Attracting any qualified staff into the area has been challenging, particularly in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie and the shortage of housing and the increase in housing costs, it is difficult for people to justify moving into the area," he said.

"Other remote areas receive incentives for staff including increased holidays and remote allowances.

"However this issue of recruitment is a theme throughout regional North Queensland and those organisations who have these incentives are still struggling to attract qualified and highly skilled people to the area.

"It certainly puts pressure on agencies when the community need is so high.

"With the shortage of psychologists there is a flow-on effect that means for this service, there are additional demands on the therapists to support clients who have identified mental health concerns.

"While the majority of the staff have the appropriate qualifications, the expectations to provide this service remains the same."

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