In 2020 the NSW Police Force continues its focus on providing a proactive policing response to people within our community living with a mental illness.
Mental Health continues to be a significant health issue across all communities. It’s impact on the quality of life for the consumer, their families and health professionals are substantial. Our challenge is to build upon the good work of police who are continually confronted with increasing volume of incidents which can be quite complex. The NSW Police Force is committed to improving the capability of Police Officers and other frontline staff through effective training of de-escalation techniques, management and referral options for persons affected by mental illness and disorders. We will continue to align ourselves with the objectives of the Memorandum of Understanding 2018, working closely with NSW Health and other key agencies to improve safety and build confidence in protecting vulnerable persons.
The NSWPF Mental Health Intervention Team (MHIT), continues to evolve to meet the complex challenges posed by mental health and suicide prevention issues within the community.
In 2019, the NSW Police Force responded to 54,571 mental health related incidents across the State. One in five persons within the community suffers from a mental health issue in any given year, and over half of us will experience a mental health issue at some stage during our lifetime. As a result, the number of mental health incidents the NSWPF are called upon to attend and resolve continues to grow exponentially each year.
The Mental Health Intervention Team remains committed to the task of better preparing our frontline officers to meet this challenge. The two-day Mental Health Enhanced Police Practice Module is now into its twelfth year of delivery and has resulted in 3000 officers becoming trained as specialists and assuming the role of prioritised first responders to mental health related incidents within their police area commands and police districts. Over 65 officers from other Policing jurisdictions and health professionals from across Australia and New Zealand have also undertaken the program.
In 2015, we saw the completion of a two year roll out of the One Day Mental Health Training 2014/15. This program saw 16,141 officers trained in mental health and suicide intervention. Further, this one-day program is delivered to each recruit class as they progressed through their initial training at the NSWPF Academy at Goulburn. The One Day MH Workshop continues to be delivered to every recruit class at the Academy ensuring 100 percent of officers are capably trained. It is a major achievement for the NSWPF to deliver a two-tiered mental health training program.
On 24 April 2020 NSW Health announced funding of $73 million to help support the mental health and wellbeing of people across NSW. A large portion of this money has been invested into two projects which will assist not only the community living in Metropolitan areas, but also Regional areas. The PACER (Police, Ambulance, Clinician, Early Response) Model is being trialled at 12 sites across Sydney and the Central Coast. The PACER model centres on a dedicated joint police and mental health response. The aim of the project is to provide the most appropriate care for mental health consumers, reducing Emergency Department presentations and increasing assessment and referral capabilities in the out of hospital setting. Mental Health Clinicians are available in real time and can be deployed to the site to assist a person in crisis.
Virtual PACER is designed specifically for Regional areas of NSW and is a similar model to PACER, the difference being the Accredited person or Medical Officer is accessed via AVL.
I again commend the excellent work being performed by the MHIT and recommend them to you as a valuable source of information, expertise and liaison within the mental health and suicide prevention space in NSW.
Assistant Commissioner Leanne McCusker APM
Corporate Sponsor - Mental Health