Hon Roger Cook BA GradDipBus MBA MLA

Hon Roger Cook BA GradDipBus MBA MLA

Deputy Premier; Minister for State Development, Jobs and Trade; Hydrogen Industry; Tourism; Science

    Children’s mental health review to drive future focus

    14/12/2020 11:00 AM
    • New taskforce to be established to drive a children's and adolescent services system for the future
    • Chief Psychiatrist review into the case of Ms Kate Savage delivered and released 

    The State Government will be focusing on improving mental health outcomes for children as a priority over the next year.


    It follows the release of the progress update on the Our Children Can't Wait report by the Commissioner for Children and Young People earlier this year and today's release of the Chief Psychiatrist review into the case of Ms Kate Savage.


    Mental Health Minister Roger Cook requested the Chief Psychiatrist Nathan Gibson undertake an independent review into the treatment and care of Ms Savage.


    The Minister has acted immediately on one of the report's key recommendations.


    A taskforce will established with an independent chairperson to collaboratively engage with families, children and staff from the Perth metropolitan and regional public child and adolescent mental health services.


    The taskforce will outline a comprehensive plan for a contemporary, world-class child and adolescent service operating model, incorporating best practice nationally and internationally.


    Demand in the Community Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services has risen 50 per cent between 2015 and 2019, reflecting a nationwide increase in demand for mental health services.


    About half of mental health issues start by 14 years of age. Nationally, 7.6 per cent of young people aged 12 to 17 were dispensed mental health-related medication in 2018-19.


    Kate and her family had accessed various mental health services since 2015, including a GP, private psychologist, Perth Children's Hospital and the community mental health services, before her death earlier this year.


    The Government will immediately:

    • enhance the recently established CAMHS Emergency Telehealth Service and boost the capacity for mental health assessment and support within the Perth Children's Hospital emergency department.
    • implement a model for peer workers to support families accessing the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
    • undertake planning of community intensive treatment services for children and adolescents, in conjunction with the work of the taskforce review. 

    The Government will soon launch a new evidence-based parenting campaign to support parents and carers with the mental health and wellbeing of their children.


    To talk to someone call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, for free counselling call Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or to find local mental health services, visit http://www.myservices.org.au 


    The CAMHS Emergency Telehealth Service (ETS) on 1800 048 636 is available to give free advice to parents, carers, grandparents, school and health professionals in the Perth metropolitan area, as an alternative to presenting to an emergency department. It is available between 8am and 2:30am, seven days a week.


    To read the review, go to http://www.chiefpsychiatrist.wa.gov.au


    Comments attributed to Mental Health Minister Roger Cook:


    "Kate's family have shown enormous courage in telling their story, in the hope that it will save lives and drive better outcomes for children in this State - I thank them for that.


    "Earlier this year I met with Kate's mother Meron to better understand the family's situation and as a consequence, I asked the Chief Psychiatrist to review Kate's case and the services that were available to Kate at the time.


    "The final report makes for sobering reading. Unfortunately it confirms that what we have been aware of for some time - there are significant gaps in the mental health care available in the public mental health system for children and adolescents.


    "Better supporting our children is an investment in the future. No child should have to tackle the challenges of a higher risk environment or experiences without access to the mental health support they need.


    "We must work to support children and families earlier, to prevent escalation of mental health issues, provide longer term, holistic care when it's needed, and deliver sustainable children and adolescent mental health services that can meet the needs of the community."


    Comments attributed to Chief Psychiatrist Nathan Gibson:


    "Kate's death cannot be rationalised.


    "The evidence shows a huge surge in demand for child and adolescent mental health services over several years in WA. This is happening around Australia.


    "The research is clear: we must provide available, effective and sustained mental health treatment services for children under 12 years old, as well as for older children. If we do not provide this early life treatment and support, we will condemn a generation to worsening mental health throughout their lives.


    "I trust this review will give hope to families and clinicians, and lead to better services for children and adolescents."


    Minister's office - 6552 6500