Bravehearts has backed calls by the Australian Psychological Society (APS) to overhaul the Medicare system to ensure immediate, adequate and appropriate counselling for survivors of childhood sexual assault.
It comes after The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard that victims are being ‘retraumatised’ by inadequate Medicare-funded counselling services plagued by a shortage of properly trained practitioners.
Bravehearts Director of Therapeutic Services, Dr Deirdre Thompson, says the expansion of Medicare would have a profoundly positive impact and result in better outcomes for clients who can remain in counselling until their needs are successfully met.
Dr Thompson says the Medicare rebate only covered 10 sessions, which was vastly inadequate for some victims. While for many this means an abrupt end to their therapeutic support, Bravehearts offers the service free of charge.
“As a specialist service provider in this area Bravehearts supports any model that would enable clients to access and engage with suitably qualified practitioners in their local area confident in the knowledge that the focus will be on their specific needs, rather than being limited by the number of funded sessions and their ability to pay for additional sessions out of their own pockets,” she says.
“Many clients are referred to Bravehearts from other service providers in recognition of the fact that we offer a client-centred approach to counselling, the duration of which is guided by client need rather than funding source,” she says.
“We recognise that the impact of the trauma of CSA cannot always be addressed within 10 sessions but in fact may take months. Bravehearts also recognises the need for clients to be able to re-access counselling services over time and the ability to revisit the service as required over the course of their life.”
Dr Thompson says a reenergised Medicare would help to reduce the financial impact on Bravehearts which relies on funding and donations to deliver counselling services pro bono. The counselling team has assisted 296 clients this year.
Bravehearts sets the standard in the provision of specialist therapeutic services and support to children and young people, adults and non-offending family members affected by child sexual assault.
The service consists of psychologists and counsellors who specialise in assisting children and families to overcome symptoms by using evidence-based interventions and best practice to manage psychological symptoms that have resulted from their trauma.
Need to tall to someone? Bravehearts is here to help: 1800 272 831