Health Minister Hunt Announces Karitane Funding

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07 June 2021

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Mental Health

The Australian Government has today announced a $9.44 million grant to Karitane – Australia’s non-profit leader in parenting support services – for its National Perinatal and Infant Mental Health: Connect and Care program, an Australian-first nationally coordinated triage and referral system for expectant and new parents experiencing or at risk of perinatal mental illness.

One in every five mums and one in every ten dads suffers from perinatal depression and anxiety. This not only significantly impacts the individual, but also their partner and especially their children.

Until today, accessing mental health support for new and expectant parents has been challenging to navigate with varied access points, processes and restrictions across state and city borders. This fragmented approach has sadly resulted in crucial opportunities for early intervention being missed.

The new Connect and Care program, led by Karitane in collaboration with member agencies from Australasian Association of Parenting & Child Health (AAPCH), The University of New South Wales and Parenting Research Centre, closes the gap in national perinatal mental health care by creating a national consortium of relevant service providers who meet the needs and intervention levels of families seeking support.

Through a national Helpline coordinated by place-based perinatal healthcare navigators, families and referring health professionals across Australia will be seamlessly connected with the relevant and nearest support from a comprehensive network of existing Perinatal Infant Mental Health service providers. Each case will be triaged to ensure support-seekers receive holistic case coordination and location-specific referral pathways. Navigators will be actively supported by a unit of Indigenous support workers and will operate from AAPCH locations around the country, guaranteeing expansive knowledge and enhanced access to local treatment facilities and options – including those in rural and remote regions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Grainne O’Loughlin, CEO of Karitane said: “We are excited to deliver better mental health outcomes for Australian families by bringing national consistency to what is currently a fragmented siloed system.

“By connecting service providers more seamlessly across the country and developing a national network of perinatal care navigators as well as standardised triage criteria, we aim to achieve stronger cohesion, utilisation and collaboration within our national ecosystem of Perinatal Mental Health Services.”

A significant increase in demand for perinatal care in recent months has resulted in longer waitlists and increased wait times before receiving support. In response, the Connect and Care program also ensures that patients are provided with immediate necessary guidance, education and support during their wait periods by way of virtual telehealth consultations and immediate access to relevant resources.

“We commend The Australian Government’s decision to shine a light on perinatal mental health and are thrilled to receive this significant investment on behalf of the AAPCH consortium.”

“The latest statistics reveal more than 60,000 mums and 30,500 dads suffer from perinatal depression and anxiety each year, which sadly also affects up to one in ten pregnant women. Karitane recently recorded a 135% increase in demand for its services, whereby the third most common reason for referral was mental health related issues. “Now, more than ever, new and expectant parents are calling out for support and Karitane is committed to delivering this ground-breaking initiative for the better mental health of families around Australia,” O’Loughlin added.

Karitane - News - Health Minister Hunt Announces Karitane Funding - illustration 22c8d543-b027-4435-a9a5-1711744206a9

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