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2017-18 Federal Budget: Mental health proves to be a priority

10 May 2017

The National Mental Health Commission, Australia’s national agency responsible for providing insight, advice and evidence on ways to improve our mental health system, has praised the Federal Budget.

Commission CEO, Dr Peggy Brown thanked the Government for prioritising mental health and increasing the budget to fill gaps the sector had identified as being of concern.

“The Government’s provision of $80 million for psychosocial support services for people with mental illness is critical for people who don’t qualify for the NDIS,” Dr Brown said.

“We also welcome lifting the Medicare rebate freeze - now people won’t think twice before they visit a doctor, which is essential for people with chronic mental health problems.

“It’s also good to see that mental health research has been given a $15 million funding boost, we hope this is a positive sign for the future. 

“During MAYDAYs for Eating Disorders month, it’s timely that eating disorders will be recognised officially as serious and complex mental illnesses with serious physical consequences,” she said.

Dr Brown said the Government has also provided $9.1 million over four years to improve access to psychological services through telehealth in regional, rural and remote Australia.

“This will give people in rural Australia the ability to access services through video consultations, so they will not have to travel long distances to access these services,” she said.

“Regional, rural and remote Australians face significant challenges due to such things as isolation, lack of services and severe weather conditions impacting their livelihoods. This has led to suicide in rural areas being 40 per cent higher than in major cities.

 “With the rate of suicide being at its highest in 10 years, suicide prevention support programs will greatly benefit through the $11.1 million allocated towards helping prevent suicide at high risk locations and will also provide much needed additional support.”

Dr Brown said it is also commendable that the Government acted quickly to provide Australian Defence Force members with $350 million for the prevention of self-harm and suicide.

“It was only 28 March when the Commission provided the Australian Government with its final report on the review of services available to veterans and members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in relation to prevention of self-harm and suicide.

“Included in the funding is $33.5 million to expand the range of mental health conditions current and former ADF members can seek treatment for.

 “The final report and recommendations were considered and acted upon quickly by the Australian Government,” Dr Brown said.

“There are a range of other funding measures such as $9.8 million to fund pilot programs to improve mental health services for veterans and support suicide prevention efforts, as well as $24 million to improve disability employment services, which are all positive steps to improve Australia’s mental wealth.”

Dr Brown said housing and homelessness issues are a significant problem for those with a mental illness and the Government’s budget increase was much needed.

“Generally for people who are living with a mental health difficulty, getting and keeping their own home is hard to achieve compared to the general community,” Dr Brown said.

 “The budget increase of $375 million over three years as part of the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement to fund services to address homelessness is a step in the right direction.

MEDIA CONTACT: 0418 810 239



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