Coast Community News: Major success for PACER program

The percentage of people transported by the police to hospital for mental health assessments on the Central Coast has halved in the past six months, thanks to the NSW Government’s PACER program.

The Police Ambulance and Clinical Early Response (PACER) program is an innovative police and mental health partnership, acting as an early invention method when dealing with mental health patients.

Minister for Mental Health, Bronnie Taylor, visited Gosford Police Station on December 2 to see first-hand the success of the program, launched in June.

“The program includes basing mental health clinicians here in police stations to work very closely with police officers,” Taylor said.

“If a police officer gets a call and receives information that the person may have a mental illness, they then will speak with the mental health clinician based there, seek advice, and ask them to come out to do an assessment of the person.”

Taylor said six PACER clinicians have been working out of Brisbane Water Police District and Tuggerah Lakes Police District since June, helping police to manage mental health emergencies.

“The result of PACER in this area has been absolutely phenomenal,” she said.

“PACER’s collaborative approach means that people on the Central Coast needing urgent mental health support are already getting better, more targeted help, sooner.

“The most important thing here is it is allowing the police to get on with what they need to do, and that keeps them safe.

“It means they can stick to their expertise of policing and the mental clinicians can stick to their expertise.”

Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Adam Crouch, said PACER is enabling rehabilitation and recovery in the community.

“Over the past six months, Gosford Hospital has seen a 26 per cent reduction in mental health patients being transferred by police,” Crouch said.

“There’s also been a 6 per cent drop in involuntary presentations compared to the same period last year.

“For a relatively short period of time, this is an outstanding result, and I’m so pleased that Central Coast people experiencing mental health issues have had more access to alternative pathways to care.”

Commander of the Brisbane Water Police District, Superintendent Tony Joice, has also applauded the joint initiative.

“The real-time availability of clinicians when people may be experiencing an episode has been invaluable,” Joice said.

“It has resulted in a significant reduction in time taken for police to respond to mental health-related incidents.”

Central Coast Local Health District Director of Mental Health, Anthony Critchley, said PACER would also provide broader social benefits.

“By ensuring people receive expert mental health care at times of crisis in an environment they are familiar with, we are sending the message that help is available, and it is okay to ask for it,” Critchley said.

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