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Social workers welcome extension of telehealth

Published: 18 September 2020

The AASW has welcomed the announcement by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt of a six month extension to the temporary COVID-19 Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) telehealth items.

AASW National President Christine Craik said the telehealth scheme has been a lifeline for people needing to continue seeing their mental health social worker, while impacted by restrictions or needing to self-isolate.

“As the pandemic continues, it is encouraging that the Federal Government has granted an extension to the subsidised telehealth sessions for an extra six months.”

“The telehealth measures have been instrumental in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting vulnerable people, as they continue to access support in a safe and timely manner.”

“While we understand that the sudden move to telehealth has been difficult for both practitioners and clients, its uptake has proven how beneficial continued mental health support has been during these challenging times. Social workers are particularly adept at adjusting to change and the AASW has been proud to see how quickly and well the profession has adapted to this new way of working.”

Ms Craik said the AASW has been continuously advocating for numerous changes to the MBS, including increased recognition for Accredited Mental Health Social Workers (AMHSW), increases to the number of sessions available under mental health care plans, and general expansion of telehealth.

“The Federal government has been sitting on the MBS Review report and recommendations for some time now and we call on them to release these as a matter of urgency. Post bushfires and the pandemic, an increase to mental health supports will be more vital than ever in the coming months.”

“Accredited Mental Health Social Workers (AMHSW) do a great job with the resources they have, but now is the time to increase these resources to help Australians recover mentally from the hardships they have faced this year.”

“This is a good start and the AASW looks forward to continuing to work with the government to ensure these measures continue post-COVID-19 as another option for receiving mental health support. People should have options in how they access support and for those who have thrived using telehealth we will continue to advocate that this is available for them,” Ms Craik said.

ENDS

To interview Christine Craik, please contact Noel McMahon on 0413 532 954.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers