Penrith Head to Health - Opening December 2021

Background and Overview

The Federal Government has invested $14 million into the Penrith Head to Health (originally known as Penrith Adult Mental Health Centre) as part of its 2019-20 Prioritising Mental Health budget measure.

The Centre is one of eight being trialed across the country over the next five years, with one located in each state and territory. The Primary Health Network (PHN) has been tasked with delivering the centres, which will provide much-needed support to individuals seeking help, particularly in times of crisis. The Centre will open by December 2021.

Wentworth Healthcare, the provider of the Nepean Blue Mountains PHN, will be delivering the concept in Penrith and is working closely with Neami National who is the lead agency that will operate the Penrith Head to Health.

The Centres are designed to provide a welcoming, low stigma soft entry point to engagement and assessment for people who may be experiencing distress or crisis, including people with conditions too complex for many current primary care services but who are not eligible for or awaiting care from state or territory public community mental health. They are also intended to trial approaches to offering immediate, short and medium-term episodes of care and service navigation to connect people to ongoing services. They will assist adults seeking help in times of crisis, or as needs emerge, to have access to on-the-spot care, advice and support provided by a variety of health professionals – without needing a prior appointment.

The Centres are intended to complement, not replace or duplicate, mental health services already provided in the community. They are not designed to offer long term care but will be based on an episode of care model, delivering packages of evidence-based care and family support to cover the short to medium term, which could last from a few weeks to several months based on clinical judgement and individual need. Centres are to provide an accessible, responsive service that meets immediate needs and provides expertise in the assessment of needs, linkage and support, and care. Centres should also provide integrated mental health and AOD services.

We believe that community and health industry consultation is very important to the design of this centre and there will be the opportunity for people to provide input in the coming months. We are inviting people to register their interest in being involved in the consultation process through HealthHub, our consultation platform at

The column on the right hand side of this page "Register your Interest" provides further information how to ensure you receive updates.

MEDIA RELEASE 25/06/2021 - PENRITH’S HEAD TO HEALTH CENTRE TAKES NEXT STEP TO DECEMBER OPENING

The Federal Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, the Federal Member for Lindsay, Melissa McIntosh MP and Wentworth Healthcare CEO, Lizz Reay are pleased to announce that Neami National will operate Penrith’s Adult Mental Health Centre, now called Head to Health, which will open in December 2021.

The centre is one of eight being trialled across the country over the next five years, with one located in each state and territory. The Primary Health Network (PHN) has been tasked with delivering the centres which will provide walk-in support, without the need of a prior appointment, to individuals experiencing distress or crisis.

Federal Member for Lindsay, Melissa McIntosh said the mental health and wellbeing of our community is a key priority for her and the Morrison Government.

“One of my first actions as the Federal Member for Lindsay was forming the Lindsay Healthy Active Living Network, and inviting the Minister for Health to meet with local people to discuss the needs of our community now, and into the future,” Ms McIntosh said.

“People in Lindsay deserve the help, support and care when they need it most. That’s why I committed over $14 million for this important local mental health service.

“This is an important milestone in the delivery of what will become a cornerstone of the health and wellbeing of our community. The centre will cater for the specific needs of our community to ensure local people get the best outcomes.”

Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, welcomed the news and said he looked forward to continuing to improve mental health services in Western Sydney.

“As part of the 2021-22 Budget, the Morrison Government invested a record $2.3 billion in the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan to lead landmark reform in mental health support and treatment for Australians in need,” Minister Hunt said.

“Head to Health centres form part of our five key pillars to improve mental health outcomes and I’m delighted that this service will be open soon to the Lindsay community.

“Melissa has been a tireless advocate for her community of Lindsay in Canberra and I am proud that the Penrith Head to Health clinic will be open by the end of the year.

“The Morrison Government is committed to working towards zero suicides and transforming the mental health system to ensure that All Australians can access the right care and essential services whenever and wherever they need.”

Wentworth Healthcare, the provider of the Nepean Blue Mountains PHN, is responsible for delivering the Head to Health concept in Penrith and is excited to be partnering with Neami to establish and operate the centre. Neami National was selected after a rigorous open tender process which included local clinicians and community members as part of the assessment panel.

Wentworth Healthcare CEO, Lizz Reay said, “in our region, it is estimated that 17 per cent of people are experiencing high or very high psychological distress, and these numbers were reported before the effects of bushfires, COVID-19 and floods.”

“Neami National has over 35 years of experience in delivering programs that have improved the mental health and wellbeing of communities across Australia. We look forward to utilising our combined knowledge in the co-design of this vital service, to ensure it meets the needs of our local community,” Ms Reay said.

“Our intention is that this centre will be a safe, friendly and welcoming hub for individuals experiencing emotional or psychological distress and for the loved ones and carers who support them. Insights from people in our region with lived experience, their carers and families, will be key to the design of this centre.”

Neami National CEO, Tom Dalton, said, “Neami National has deep associations in Penrith and surrounds and will continue our partnering with local organisations and the community to co-design, implement and deliver a welcoming, safe and inclusive space for people seeking mental health support.

“We learn when we have a deep engagement with the local community which feeds into better services for people,” Mr Dalton said.

“Working closely with our partners, we will bring an evidence-based recovery approach and a lived experience emphasis to provide a ‘no wrong door’ way to support people with mental health concerns, their families and carers.

“We are excited to be partnering to bring this much needed service to Penrith and acknowledge the Federal Government’s commitment to providing these safe and inclusive services for our communities.”

Both Wentworth Healthcare and Neami National believe that community and health industry consultation is crucial to the design of the centre. You can register your interest in being involved in the consultation process at www.nbmphn.com.au/HeadtoHealth.

The Australian Government is funding a trial of eight Adult Mental Health Centres across Australia. The Adult Mental Health Centres will be developed and operate at the local level under the following operational principles. The Centres will:

  1. Offer a highly visible and accessible ‘no wrong door’ entry point for adults and their families to access information and services which are designed to empower, support and improve their psychological and physical health, and social and emotional wellbeing.
  2. Provide information and services which can assist those providing support to people in need.
  3. Provide a welcoming, compassionate, culturally appropriate and safe environment that is inclusive for all people accessing services or supports that are trauma-informed, person-centred and recovery-focused.
  4. Provide access across extended hours to best practice on the spot advice, support and care for immediate, short term, and where appropriate, medium term needs delivered by a multidisciplinary professional health care team providing discipline specific and interdisciplinary care including a suitably trained peer support workforce, nursing and allied health and specialist medical care, without prior appointments or a fee.
  5. Assist people in need to find, access and effectively utilise digital forms of help including information, support and therapies.
  6. Support people to connect to pathways of care through integration with longer term existing community mental health services where these are accessible and appropriate, local Primary Health Network commissioned services, or GPs and state and territory funded services, as required.
  7. Provide an option for intervention and support that may reduce the need for emergency department attendance.
  8. Explore opportunities for the development and utilisation of innovation to complement defined core functions, and to meet gaps in the provision of mental health services in the region.
  9. Implement appropriate confidentiality and privacy arrangements in accordance with relevant legislation.
  10. Operate under robust effective governance frameworks that support connectivity to other supports and services, and conduct local evaluation activities, to ensure transparency and accountability and maximising service quality.

The establishment and implementation of the Adult Mental Health Centres trial will be nationally evaluated to generate new evidence and to guide any future expansion of this initiative.