New free mental health centre for Ipswich

3 minute read

While Mark Butler headed to the Apple Isle on MUCC business, his assistant ministers went to the Sunshine State to open a Medicare mental health clinic.

With the ink barely dry on the federal budget, the rollout of 61 new Medicare mental health clinics has begun. 

Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN, in partnership with Open Minds, officially opened the Ipswich Medicare Mental Health Centre (formerly Head to Health) today. 

While federal Health Minister Mark Butler was busy in Tasmania announcing a new Medicare urgent care centre, Assistant Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Minister Emma McBride and Assistant Rural and Regional Health Minister headed to Ipswich for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. 

The centre has been established to offer immediate, free, walk-in support for people experiencing distress or crisis. No referral or appointment is necessary. 

It replaces the pop-up centre which opened in December and will be open Monday to Friday from 10am-6pm (excluding public holidays). 

Local GPs, service providers, representatives from West Moreton Hospital and Health Service, community members, and people with a lived or living experience of mental health concerns were all involved in the design of the centre. 

Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN CEO, Lucille Chalmers, said it was an important service for the region. 

“We know that mental health is a significant concern in Ipswich and across the broader West Moreton region, and that our communities need support with their mental health concerns, including depression and anxiety,” she said. 

“Unfortunately, in the 2021 Census the most common long-term health condition in Ipswich was a mental health condition – at 11% of the population – higher than the Queensland (9.6) and national (8.8) averages. 

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“The good news is Medicare Mental Health Centres can offer direct support to those with immediate need but will also connect people to other mental health services across the region.” 

Ms McBride said making mental health care more accessible for all Australians was a high priority for the Albanese Government. 

“We’re committed to expanding the network of Medicare Mental Health Centres so Australians can access quality and affordable mental health care,” she said. 

“This service will help residents across Greater Ipswich access free, walk-in, clinical mental health care close to home.” 

The Ipswich Medicare Mental Health Centre will be operated by Open Minds, which is also delivering services through the Kingaroy Medicare Mental Health Centre. 

The Ipswich Medicare Mental Health Centre (formerly Head to Health) is officially opened by (left to right) Kate Johnson (CEO, Open Minds), Dr Tony Bayliss (Chair, Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN), Hon Shayne Neumann MP, Dr Cathryn Hester (Chair, RACGP Qld Council), Hon Emma McBride MP (Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention and Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health) and Mayor Teresa Harding.

Open Minds CEO, Kate Johnson said the team was passionate about improving the mental health of people in Ipswich and its surrounds. 

“I really encourage anyone struggling with their mental health to take the first step and come into the centre to ask for help,” she said. 

The Ipswich Medicare Mental Health Centre is free and available to people in Ipswich of all ages. No referral or appointment is necessary. For more information, see here

The face-to-face service complements the existing national Head to Health Assessment and Referral Phone Service, which has been operational in the Darling Downs and West Moreton region since July 2022 and can be reached on 1800 595 212.  

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