There was a sense of excitement in the air at the launch event of the Gateway Health Psychology Clinic on 23 August. This clinic is several years in the making and will provide much needed affordable mental health services to the community.

Members of the University of Melbourne’s Department of Rural Health, Gateway Health staff and the Federal MP for Indi came together to celebrate.

“There are a lot of people that come under the threshold of my office whether it be by email, telephone or in person, and they come in to tell me about the struggles they have in accessing services for mental health,” said Ms Haines. “Access is one of the key structural barriers to our people across rural, regional and indeed remote Australia achieving the health and wellbeing that they so richly deserve … That’s why this [clinic] matters.”

The clinic is serviced by qualified provisional psychologists from Victorian universities who are supervised by licensed and experienced psychologists. This approach allows Gateway Health to attract more psychologists to the region and offer more affordable mental health services to the community.

“We’ve seen more demand for mental health services in our region and the Gateway Health Psychology Clinic is an innovative way to increase access to these services,” said Alana Pund, General Manager, Mental Health and Wellbeing at Gateway Health.

The clinic also offers a nurturing and stimulating vocational experience for provisional psychologists.

“We like to give students the opportunity to use their skills and contribute to the community because there is such a need. There is no greater health need or workforce need than in mental health,” said Professor Lisa Bourke, Director, Department of Rural Health, University of Melbourne.

Working in rural services also offers unique insights into collaborative work with other service providers and the opportunity to develop skills in working with all types of clients. Evidence suggests that trainees who gain experience in a rural community are more likely to return there to practice once fully licensed.

The Gateway Health Psychology Clinic is delivered through a partnership between Departments of Rural Health at the University of Melbourne, Monash, La Trobe and Deakin Universities, together with Gateway Health and Budja Budja Aboriginal Cooperative. It is supported by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care’s funding through the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training program.