NaviCare Mental Health Service Launches in Bowen Basin

A new model of care for community mental health funded by mining company Mitsubishi Development was officially launched yesterday by the Wesley Medical Research institute and officiated by Isaac Regional Council Mayor, Anne Baker at the Moranbah Youth and Community Centre.

The new service known as NaviCare was developed following world-class research by Wesley Medical Research in collaboration with the Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation, which revealed numerous service gaps for residents seeking mental health care delivery in the Bowen Basin.

A lack of psychology services for children and youth, as well as a general lack of mental health services, particularly those that are face-to-face and affordable, are among the key findings of the research conducted across Moranbah, Dysart, Clermont, and Nebo.

The $500,000 research program donated by MDP was led by Wesley Medical Research in response to the impacts that COVID-19 continues to have on community mental health.

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker said the region had an increasing demand for mental health support.

“Here in Isaac we are passionate about mental health and wellbeing support,” Mayor Baker said.

“We believe people living and working in rural and remote areas deserve the same access to mental health services as those living in our major cities.”

“Council has long advocated for better health outcomes for our region. The Navicare Hub aligns with this position and is an extremely welcome support service for our communities. Thank you to Mitsubishi Development and Wesley Medical Research for your critical investment into the mental health and well being of our communities.”

Mitsubishi Development Chief Executive Officer, Sadahiko Haneji said the initiative commenced following concerns about the prolonged effects COVID-19 would have on a community in which we operate -already at a higher risk of poor mental health.

“We knew our mining communities, including our workforce would be more vulnerable in this environment and whilst there are already so many organisations doing great work in this space, people are still falling through the gaps.

“The NaviCare service is about providing a local and trusted Care Navigator in the community to tailor solutions to an individual’s unique situation – bridging any gaps by pairing support available in the community with specialist options available in other locations through new mechanisms like Telehealth,” Mr Haneji said.

“An ongoing challenge is the additional demand for public services that stems from a remote region comprising roughly two-thirds residential population and one-third non-residential workers at any given time. It is clear that our organisation has a responsibility to ensure we are sustainably growing alongside our local communities whilst supporting our workforce, the broader resources industry and their families.

Chief Executive Officer of Wesley Medical Research, Dr Claudia Giurgiuman said the study has shown increasing demand for mental health care has not been met with a proportional increase in services, largely due to the challenges associated with rural and remote areas.

“It’s clear service providers that were part of our study have a lot of passion for mental health and community care, as do the many organisations that fund mental health delivery.

“However, as with most regional communities, a lower socioeconomic profile, higher rates of homelessness, drugs and alcohol, and domestic violence exist, and are connected with reduced mental health outcomes.

While outreach services are crucial in this environment, the research revealed there remains a stigma related to mental health which may lead to decreased health-seeking behaviour.

“Unfortunately, mental health is still something people in the Bowen Basin are not comfortable talking about and this can impact on how quickly an individual reaches out for help,” said Kelly McGrath, who will be leading on-the-ground services for Isaac NaviCare.

“I hope to be a trusted face in the community, making someone’s first outreach for help a little easier. I’ve lived in regional Queensland for most of my life, and my family works in the mining industry”, Kelly explained.

“By having a deep understanding of the challenges and disconnect that remote towns can have partnered with training and expertise in health services, my goal is to connect personally with our local residents and guide them on a path to support”.

[L-R] Dr Claudia Giurgiuman, CEO – Wesley Medical Research, Taro Abe, Senior Vice President and Head of Metallurgical Coal Division – Mitsubishi Development, Charlie Sartain, Board Chair – Wesley Medical Research, Anne Baker, Mayor – Isaac Regional Council, Kelly McGrath, Care Navigator – Isaac NaviCare, Wesley Medical Research