Parliament: Questions Kelly's Asked

Speech Pathology Services in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking questions of the minister representing the Minister for Mental Health regarding speech pathology services in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

Leave granted.

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: It has come to my attention that there are significant concerns about the proposal to remove speech pathology under a restructured Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in South Australia. This possibly raises the following issues. Removal of speech pathology expertise is at odds with evidence of contemporary multidisciplinary mental health care for children and young people. Removal of this expertise could also be particularly problematic for the very priority groups that the restructured service proposes to focus on; that is, Aboriginal people, those under the guardianship of the minister, and people of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

A model of care, as proposed under the restructure, presumes that the NDIS will pick up quite a few of the children and young people who will no longer be eligible for CAMHS under the restructure. Also, this model of care proposed presumes that children and young people who are no longer eligible can be triaged to community-based services. Speech pathology access to community-based services and private practice has significant barriers, and there is a possibility that these children will miss out on services only speech pathology could otherwise provide, as I understand it.

I understand that the model of care proposed under the restructure is also problematic in that it seems to presume that children and young people will be able to access therapy through the education system when this may or may not be the case. My questions to the minister are:

  1. Does the minister acknowledge that services provided by speech pathologists to young people and adolescents with mental illnesses within CAMHS are specialist trained and that other services, such as speech pathologists within the education department, may be unlikely to fill the gap by removing speech pathology from CAMHS?
  2. Does the minister acknowledge that the groups of children and young people who will be most in need of speech pathology as part of their mental health team, given that we know about the increased prevalence of speech, language and communication problems in these groups and the complexity of clinical care, when there are co-occurring mental health and communication issues?
  3. Does the minister also concede that there is a reasonable assumption that this decision reflects cost shifting to the NDIS, the federal government, MBS and the SA Department for Education in an attempt to reduce the operating budget of CAMHS?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety): I thank the honourable member for her comprehensive questions. Of course, I would be more than happy to facilitate the taking of those questions on notice for the relevant minister in the other place.