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Gippslanders will get the same access to psychologists as those living in major cities and regional centres, under a new health initiative to roll out this year.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester today welcomed the initiative, saying it would help people living in rural and remote areas to receive appropriate care.

“People living in Gippsland will soon be able to claim a Medicate rebate for online video conferencing consultations with their psychologist, who might be hundreds of kilometres away,” Mr Chester said.

“Until now, the absence of a rebate for this type of consultation has been a major barrier to some patients receiving vital mental health treatment.

“From November 1, up to seven of the 10 sessions currently available under Medicare rebatable mental health plans will be available via telehealth, or online video consultations.

“This means people in need will no longer face the inconvenience, time and expense of having to travel to larger regional centres or major cities for sessions with their psychologist, and these health professionals will be able to connect sooner and more regularly with patients in need of psychological care,” Mr Chester said.

The initiative is the first to be rolled out following the announcement of the Regional Australia Ministerial Taskforce, chaired by the Prime Minister.

It will cost $9 million over four years from 2017–18 to 2020–21.

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