Staff were informed this morning of a proposed Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) restructure, which would merge its eastern and western Adelaide offices, as well as the service’s two southern hubs.
It would also cut adolescent and under-12s group programs currently provided at the CAMHS Enfield campus – to be delivered in schools instead – and the 4.5 full-time equivalent speech pathologists currently employed in the service.
“A speech pathologist can’t manage a person with mental health difficulties,” CAMHS clinical director Dr Prue McEvoy told InDaily.
“They can assist us in managing a young person with mental health difficulties who also might have language difficulties, but they’re not able to do that primary work … that we need for all our clinicians.
“We’re certainly not saying that speech pathology is not helpful to mental health, but it isn’t a core mental health discipline.”
But she said there would be “no redundancies” and those speech pathologists with permanency would be moved out of CAMHS to another area of government.
“For those individuals where the role has changed in CAMHS, if they are permanent staff they will still have permanency in Government,” she said.
She said CAMHS would “interface” speech pathologists in the Education Department to make sure children still have access to those services.
She said the service was following the lead of the Education Department in relation to the Enfield campus.
“[The Education Department] withdrew teachers from the Enfield site prior to us making this decision and going out for consultation,” said McEvoy.
“They would prefer to offer those sorts of specialised intervention services within the schools.”
She said the overall restructure was designed make sure the service focused on the children most in need of mental health treatment and support – especially those under state guardianship.
“We’re really pitching ourselves to work with the most complex, the most vulnerable and those that would not get a service through those other [non-government services],” she said.
She said CAMHS had to “become very clear about who requires our level of service, versus those that can be managed in many other mental health services like HeadSpace … doing lower level work”.
Public Service Association General Secretary Nev Kitchin told InDaily: “The Public Service Association will meet with PSA members affected by the proposed statewide restructure during the consultation period to discuss potential implications to those affected staff and their clients.”
“PSA speech pathologists working in CAMHS are highly skilled clinicians who provide a specialised service to the community.
“PSA members would be very concerned if the proposed changes impacted on the availability of speech pathologists with this specialisation.”
Kitchin added that “the primary concern for PSA and members is the welfare and support of our state’s most vulnerable children and young people”.
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