02 July 2024

APNA offers support and mentoring for nurses new to primary healthcare.

Building on the success of its Transition to Practice Program, APNA is now offering the National Mental Health Pathways to Practice Program.

The free program is for nurses:

  • who have graduated within the past five years
  • who are supporting patients with mental health conditions  
  • who would like to enhance their mental health expertise  

The program matches participants with experienced mentors who want to share their knowledge and experience. It also gives participants access to an exclusive online Community of Practice forum where they can connect with their peers for added support.  

APNA is also looking for experienced nurse mentors. Mentors will be paid for their time. 

Find out more/apply
28 June 2024

SWSPHN is providing free, on-site training and ongoing support to equip GPs in South Western Sydney with the skills to more effectively refer patients to mental health services.

The Initial Assessment and Referral (IAR) Decision Support Tool (DST), an initiative of the Department of Health and Aged Care, is a nationally-consistent, evidence-based and objective approach to initial assessment and referral of patients seeking mental health support.

All federally-funded mental health services will soon be using the IAR-DST, standardising how referrals are made and making it less likely your referrals will be refused.

If you want to ensure you’re prepared for the change, we can help.

Contact SWSPHN Workforce Development Officer Brendan Chiew (pictured) at brendan.chiew@swsphn.com.au or by calling 9896 9540 for more information or to arrange IAR-DST training for GPs at your practice.

A $300 once-off incentive payment is available per GP and CPD hours apply.

Find out more about IAR-DST
21 June 2024

Thank you, and congratulations to the Fairfield Health Alliance Gambling Working Group on winning the 2024 ZEST Award for Outstanding Community Partnership.

The ZEST awards recognise and celebrate the achievements and innovative work of the community sector across Western Sydney.

The Fairfield Health Alliance Gambling Working Group (GWG) aims to identify and address gambling harm through community awareness-raising activities, projects and research.

The gambling working group (members pictured) was formed seven years ago and works collaboratively to bring awareness to gambling harm as a pressing, complex community issue which can only be addressed through collective action from a range of stakeholders such as placed-based neighbourhood centres, community health agencies, clinical services, local and state government.

There are currently 16 active organisations within the partnership, contributing a variety of skills, knowledge and time to deliver a range of GWG activities which include community capacity building, resource development, community outreach and research.

Currently, one of the key focuses of the working group is to implement the Gambling Harm Screening Tool, the next phase of a previous pilot project of the Fairfield Health Alliance. This project is led by a sub-group with representatives of key partner organisations, including SWSPHN, South Western Sydney Local Health District and Fairfield City Council.

The Fairfield Health Alliance identifies and addresses local health needs in the Fairfield LGA. The gambling working group is one of three working groups under the alliance’s umbrella.

Find out more about SWSPHN’s other partnerships

18 June 2024

The Transcultural Mental Health Centre has provided the following resources for general practices, following discussions at its recent Transcultural Mental Health care workshop hosted by SWSPHN.


Cross Cultural Mental Health Care (includes links to Kleinman’s Explanatory Model of Illness, the Transcultural Assessment Checklist and DSM Cultural Formulation Interview, and translated screening tools)

Transcultural Mental Health Centre (includes community mental health profile pages, translated resources, bilingual carer groups etc)

Refugee Mental Health Program (includes information about working refugees and asylum seeker populations)


NSW Health Multicultural Communication Health Service (includes technology tools and translated resources)

Embrace Mental Health (includes translated resources)

Self-care related tools 

Professional Quality of Life Scale

The Essential Network for Health Professionals (Black Dog Institute)

Additional information

Invisible wounds of the Israel-Gaza war in Australia  (a journal article by Rees and Moussa)

Flyer: Free public healthcare in NSW for people fleeing the Israel-Gaza conflict (includes information about access to public hospital services free of charge for people fleeing the Israel-Gaza war who arrived in Australia on or after 17 October 2023 on visa subclass 600 (Visitor Visa))

14 June 2024

Delivery of the low intensity mental health program NewAccess for South Western Sydney will be managed by CBT Network.  

The NewAccess program, developed by Beyond Blue, has been providing mental health coaching support to help people manage everyday life stressors for the past five years.  

CBT Network began receiving referrals to the program from 3 June in a transition arrangement, as current providers, One Door Mental Health and Community Links Wellbeing, cease service delivery on 30 June.  

South Western Sydney PHN funds the NewAccess program as the low intensity component of a suite of mental health programs delivered across the region to support the mental health needs of our community.  

South Western Sydney PHN CEO Dr Keith McDonald PhD said the NewAccess program was a vital access point in the broader mental health program, providing local residents with the opportunity to seek support without needing a referral or mental health treatment plan.  

Dr McDonald thanked Community Links Wellbeing and One Door Mental Health for their commitment in delivering the program locally, and welcomed CBT Network as the new local provider of the service.  

“NewAccess is a vital program offering support to anyone feeling stressed or overwhelmed with everyday life. It is a key program in the suite of services South Western Sydney PHN funds across the region and we are looking forward to a seamless transition and continuation of quality service delivery of the program,” he said.  

For more information about the NewAccess program visit NewAccess – mental health coaching | South Western Sydney PHN (swsphn.com.au) 

05 June 2024

South Western Sydney Primary Health Network (SWSPHN) has commissioned One Door Mental Health to support people struggling with severe mental health challenges in navigating the mental health services sector in South Western Sydney.

As the new provider of the Mental Health Service Navigator, One Door Mental Health is delivering personalised support and connecting individuals with local services such as mental health services, general practitioners (GPs) and community support services, including housing, employment, education, family and financial support.

SWSPHN Chief Executive Officer, Dr Keith McDonald PhD, said the Mental Health Service Navigator program was an important pathway for healthcare professionals to refer their patients for service navigation.

“The Mental Health Service Navigator program is crucial in identifying the necessary supports for mental health recovery and making referrals to those supports,” he said.

“The program is a vital part of our dedication to improving the mental health outcomes of our community and addressing the critical gap in accessing appropriate mental health support services, especially for individuals with severe and complex mental illness.

“SWSPHN previously delivered the program directly, but now, with One Door Mental Health commissioned as the service provider, we hope the much-needed program can be expanded.”

The Mental Health Service Navigator provides tailored support to individuals, family members or caregivers supporting someone experiencing severe mental health issues and can assist with:

  • referrals to medical, psychological and social services
  • information and advice on a wide range of services
  • consultations available via phone, email or in person

One Door Mental Health is working actively with health professionals, including GPs and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, to inform them about the services available for managing severe mental health illnesses and related psychosocial disorders.

The program can be accessed by individuals with psychosocial disabilities, their caregivers and families, health professionals, and people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

To meet program criteria, the individual:

  • has a severe mental illness (possibly undiagnosed) and associated psychosocial functional impairment
  • has no restrictions on their ability to participate in the community fully and actively because of their residential setting (e.g. residing in prison or a psychiatric facility)
  • is not receiving similar psychosocial support through a state or territory government program or the NDIS, where there is potential for duplication of service offerings
  • is aged 16 years and over (exceptions for people younger than 16 years are subject to approval by SWSPHN)

The Mental Health Service Navigator is available from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday (excluding public holidays).

To access this service, call One Door Mental Health on 1800 843 539 or email servicenavigationsws@onedoor.org.au.

04 June 2024

The General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration (GPMHSC) is currently providing a $600 reimbursement to GPs who have undertaken GPMHSC-accredited Level 2 Focused Strategies Skills Training and have completed their registration with Services Australia.

What is the GPMHSC and what does it do?

The General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration (GPMHSC) sets the standards for Mental Health training, develops resources to assist GPs in delivering mental healthcare, and aids in the development of mental health policy for general practice.

It is funded through the Better Access Initiative and managed by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

GPMHSC accredits both Level 1 Mental Health Skills Training (MHST) and Level 2 Focused Strategies Skills Training (FPS ST).

What is level two Focused Psychological Strategies Skills Training (FPS ST) and why is it relevant for GPs?

Originating from evidence-based psychological therapies, focused psychological strategies (FPS) are specific mental health treatment strategies which allow GPs to be better equipped to support those experiencing difficulties with their mental health.

FPS Skills Training (FPS ST) allows for greater access to mental health services, as both an affordable alternative, as well as in remote locations where there may not be an abundance of psychologists or psychiatrists.

GPs interested in learning FPS skills can complete Level 2 accredited FPS skills training activities, and register as a provider of FPS with Medicare, allowing access to item numbers 2715 and 2717.

Visit the GPMHSC website to learn more about FPS ST.

Complete FPS ST and be rewarded

The GPMHSC is currently providing a $600 reimbursement to GPs who have undertaken GPMHSC accredited FPS ST and have completed their registration with Services Australia.

Visit the GPMHSC website to learn more about the $600 FPS subsidy.

27 May 2024

Victim-survivors shared stories of their recovery journeys and what gives them hope, at this month’s official launch of the Supporting Recovery from Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence Program at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre in Liverpool.

Delivered by CatholicCare Sydney and Anglicare Sydney, the Supporting Recovery program addresses the critical need for comprehensive support services for victim-survivors of family, domestic and sexual violence (FDSV) in our region.

The Department of Health and Aged Care has funded South Western Sydney Primary Health Network (SWSPHN) and five other PHNs, to deliver the $67 million Supporting Recovery pilot program.

The program aims to address the current FDSV mental health recovery service gaps by offering long-term recovery support which complements existing short-term and crisis support programs.

SWSPHN Amy Price speaking at the Supporting Recovery launch
SWSPHN Director of Planning and Performance, Amy Prince speaking at the Supporting Recovery launch.

SWSPHN Director of Planning and Performance, Amy Prince, spoke during the event about the urgency and importance of the program for our region.

“In South Western Sydney last year, unfortunately, there were around 5,200 domestic violence-related assault offences. The areas of Campbelltown, Liverpool and Fairfield have the highest representation, but we know many more cases go unreported,” she said.

“Last year, SWSPHN had the opportunity to apply for grant funding from the Department of Health and Aged Care to deliver the Supporting Recovery program. We were one of just six PHNs selected, and we are so grateful to be able to bring this service into South Western Sydney, as we know it’s very much needed here.

“I’m really proud to be part of an organisation that’s been able to fund this service, and I really look forward to seeing the program achieve positive outcomes for victim-survivors in our region.”.

The Supporting Recovery program is designed to provide comprehensive, trauma-informed care for victim-survivors of FDSV.

Panel at the Supporting Recovery launch
Panel discussion at the Supporting Recovery launch

One of the panellists emphasised the significant positive impact of programs like the Supporting Recovery program.

“I’m living in recovery from complex PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) from generational trauma, so I believe passionately that domestic violence services like this one are vital for the safety and healing of those of us trying to live and heal from domestic and sexual violence,” the panellist told the crowd.

“I have hope because I get to talk to people about these things. When I was growing up, we didn’t have the words for it.”

Attendees also heard from a First Nations person and survivor advocate about providing cultural safety and supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander FDSV victim-survivors.

“You need to remember it takes a lot for Aboriginal people to be able to trust other services and people because of their past history. It’s about active listening, so use your approach as a yarning rather than talking across or to someone,” the crowd was told.

“It’s about having that understanding about us, making us feel safe so we can open up to you because we will very rarely ask for help from anyone unless it’s really necessary.”

Werriwa MP Anne Stanley at the Supporting Recovery launch
Werriwa MP Anne Stanley at the Supporting Recovery launch

Werriwa MP Anne Stanley was also in attendance at the launch event on behalf of Emma McBride, the Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

“This pilot comes at a time when family and domestic violence is reaching a boiling point in our society, and it’s about time it has come to the national spotlight,” she said.

Find out more about the program


If you are currently experiencing family, domestic and sexual violence and need crisis support, call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).

If you are in immediate danger, call the police on 000.


22 May 2024

What does the mental health services landscape in South Western Sydney look like today – and how will we meet the expected increase in demand over the next decade? 

That was the focus of South Western Sydney Primary Health Network’s (SWSPHN) Mental Health Needs Assessment undertaken with insights from health professionals and community members throughout the region. The results, released earlier this year, revealed a range of key challenges and priorities both today and into the future to meet the mental health needs of our community. 

Participants at one of our Local Health Forums last year which focused on mental health.

They included: engaging with community leaders to convey key messages; increasing advertising; and improving targeted training for primary health care providers. 

Participants with professional or lived experience were approached by SWSPHN during a six-month consultation process.  

The objectives were: to understand mental health service projections; define vulnerable groups under-serviced by the Medicare Better Access initiative; understand the barriers and enablers to accessing mental health services; identify workforce experience and skills gaps; and identify opportunities to improve mental health services across South Western Sydney. 

Methods for information gathering included Local Health Forums (87 attendees), online surveys (completed by 62 community members and 27 mental health professionals) and structured interviews with 19 mental health professionals from the region. 

An extensive review of literature, health data and SWSPHN commissioned provider activity was undertaken to complete the report. 

Focus areas of the local health forums included barriers and challenges, opportunities for access, service navigation, care coordination, co-morbidity support and key priorities. 

For mental health professionals, the focus was on: underserviced groups; access barriers; care coordination; workforce experience and skills gaps; service provision barriers and perceptions of SWSPHN commissioned services. 

Figures obtained by the needs assessment showed 19.8 per cent of the South Western Sydney population of 221,864 people have likely experienced mental illness in 2023-24. Of those, 7.8 per cent (or 87,077) will require treatment for mild mental illness; 4.8 per cent (54,254) will require treatment for moderate mental illness; and 2.5 per cent will require treatment for severe mental illness. 

In 2023-24, Campbelltown had the highest predicted prevalence of mental illness compared to other areas (mild 8 per cent, moderate 5 per cent and severe 2.6 per cent respectively). 

The needs assessment identified several opportunities for mental health system improvement in South Western Sydney. Key priorities included: 

  • Priority 1: Enhancing community engagement and knowledge of mental health services by engaging with community leaders to convey key messages; increasing advertising and promotional material; and improving HealthPathways targeted training for primary care providers. 
  • Priority 2: Developing the mental health workforce capacity by upskilling GPs in key areas; establishing a SWSPHN-led webinar series to support primary care workers; and building capacity in the mental health workforce to improve accessibility.  
  • Priority 3: Improving care coordination and discharge planning by implementing an effective system; facilitating multi-disciplinary case conferences with GPs and mental health providers; and establishing inter-agency meetings to improve service awareness. 
  • Priority 4: Enhancing funding to improve accessibility to services such as early intervention and prevention programs in schools; increased services to support those experiencing a traumatic event; and improved service provider collaboration to support patient connection to services. 
  • Priority 5: Improving the SWSPHN mental health intake process and increasing follow-ups for vulnerable patients. 
Download the report
16 May 2024

People who have experienced family, domestic or sexual violence can now seek help from a new South Western Sydney PHN-funded service which aims to provide victim-survivors with access to services to support their long-term recovery.

Anglicare Sydney and CatholicCare Sydney began service delivery of the key mental health component of the Supporting Recovery from Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence Program earlier this month.

SWSPHN is one of six PHNs across the country funding services as part of the $67 million Department of Health and Aged Care program.

SWSPHN Chief Executive Officer, Dr Keith McDonald PhD, said the new service was not for people in crisis, but for those needing access to longer term recovery and healing support.

“This program aims to fill a gap in services for victim-survivors of family, domestic or sexual violence. Anglicare Sydney and CatholicCare Sydney will work with existing services which provide short-term and crisis support, to ensure the thousands of people affected by domestic violence-related assault in our region have every support they need to get back on their feet.”

Anglicare Chief Executive Community and Mission, Andrew Ford, said Anglicare had worked alongside victim-survivors of domestic and sexual violence across a wide range of communities for many years.

“That experience shows us again and again the journey toward healing and recovery can take time,” he said.

“We are committed to delivering culturally appropriate services which have a positive impact on mental wellbeing, which are accessible, inclusive and available at no cost for a period up to two years. These are the long-term supports which are crucial to supporting victim-survivors in their journey to recovery.”

CatholicCare Sydney Executive Director of Children and Family Services, Kate Dover, said it took enormous courage to seek support.

“We also know that one size does not fit all when it comes to navigating the complex intersections faced by victim-survivors of family, domestic and sexual violence,” she said.

“The Supporting Recovery program is about providing tailored and ongoing support to each individual to find a way to heal and thrive.”

“CatholicCare Sydney has a long-standing presence in South Western Sydney, with strong community ties and we are committed to providing the trauma support this community desperately needs.”

There were about 5,200 domestic violence-related assault offences across South Western Sydney from July 2022 to June 2023 (NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research).

Services are initially being delivered from hubs based in the Campbelltown, Liverpool and Fairfield communities due to higher rates of family, domestic and sexual violence in those local government areas (LGAs).

However, services may be expanded across Bankstown, Camden, Wingecarribee and Wollondilly LGAs based on need and demand. 

The Supporting Recovery program includes access to:

  • a Local Care Team to help clients coordinate and manage their recovery journey, including connecting clients with a range of other services such as legal, financial and housing supports
  • trained psychologists, social workers and counsellors who specialise in providing trauma-informed and client-centred mental healthcare
  • holistic, culturally appropriate mental health services which are available at no cost for a period up to two years

Clients do not need a doctor’s referral. They can access the service by calling 1300 316 554 or going online and completing a self-referral.

Local Care Teams which provide assessment, case management and care coordination are another key component of the program. SWSPHN is in the process of commissioning a supplier to deliver the LCT component of the program in South Western Sydney.

The Supporting Recovery program was officially launched at a special event a Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre on Wednesday, 1 May.

Find out more about the Supporting Recovery program by: