Broader access to PACFA therapists would reduce discrimination

2 February 2023


PACFA’s submission on the National Stigma and Discrimination Reduction Strategy recommends expanding access to a broader range of therapies and the diverse PACFA membership.

The submission highlights the ‘harmful impact of Medicare exclusions’, and recommends ‘broader access’ not just ‘better access’ to real choices for people in how they seek support for, and manage, their mental health.

At present, subsidised mental health care through Medicare’s Better Access initiative was only available for talk-based therapies provided by a limited range of AHPRA-regulated professions and some social workers, the submission pointed out.

For non-speaking people, people with ‘situational mutism’ and people experiencing trauma-related mental health issues, somatic and sensorimotor psychotherapy, and arts therapies may be more useful and accessible.

The National Mental Health Commission is producing the National Stigma and Discrimination Reduction Strategy as part of its mental health reform agenda.

‘Broader access’ to increase choice and self-determination for communities who commonly experience stigma and discrimination – such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people with mental health diagnoses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and the LGBTQ+ community – would mean increasing access to PACFA’s diverse membership of counsellors, psychotherapists and Indigenous Healing Practitioners, PACFA’s submission stated.

To reduce stigma and discrimination, mental health care and support needs to:

● offer choice and agency to the recipient,

● respect autonomy, human rights, and self-determination,

● provide diverse and accessible opportunities for communication and comment, and prioritise the insights of people with lived experience on their own behalf.

This would mean the experience of care will neither compound existing harms or trauma nor result in new harms and trauma.

Read the full submission.