We knew before last night that this Federal Budget was going to have significant investment in mental health and suicide prevention. Today we will be attending sector briefings to examine the fine detail and I am looking forward to learning more about the new initiatives. The investment in additional support for suicide prevention and adult and youth centres are very welcome.

However the yawning gap remains in the huge unmet need for psychosocial support in the community.  This was quantified in the Productivity Commission Report on Mental Health and this budget unfortunately has not addressed it. We will be looking to a new National Agreement (scheduled for November) to address this.

Following is a summary from the budget papers that we have compiled for you. You can read the budget in its entirety here.

Mental Health (pp 1118-119)

• $487.2 million over four years from 2021-22 to establish a network of Head to Health adult mental health centres and satellites to provide accessible, coordinated, multidisciplinary care. This includes a central intake and assessment service to triage and refer people to the most appropriate services.

• $278.6 million over four years from 2021-22 to expand and enhance headspace youth mental health services, including in conjunction with the states and territories .

• $112.4 million over four years from 2021-22 for continuity of psychosocial support services for people with a severe psychosocial disability who are not eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

  

  • $111.4 million over three years from 2022-23 to support the take up of group therapy sessions and participation of family and carers in treatment provided under therapy sessions and participation of family and carers in treatment provided under the Better Access initiative.

• $54.2 million over four years from 2021-22 to work with the states and territories to establish child mental health and wellbeing hubs to provide multidisciplinary care and preventive services.

• $46.6 million over four years from 2021-22 for parenting education and support to parents and carers with children aged under 12 years and to develop national guidelines to assist with early identification of emerging emotional difficulties.

• $34.2 million over four years from 2021-22 to expand and implement the Initial Assessment and Referral tool to assist health practitioners to consistently assess and refer consumers in the mental health system.

• $26.9 million over four years from 2021-22 to provide additional support for people with eating disorders and their families, and to establish a National Eating Disorder Research Centre.

• $4.0 million in 2021-22 to continue to provide up to ten free trauma and distress counselling sessions for those impacted by the bushfires. 

Supporting the Vulnerable (pp 119 – 120)

• $79.0 million over four years from 2021-22 to implement initiatives under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy providing crisis and support services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

• $16.9 million over four years from 2021-22 to provide mental health services and support to Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, including survivors of torture and trauma.

• $11.1 million over two years from 2021-22 to improve outcomes for people with complex mental health needs including people with cognitive disabilities and autism spectrum disorder. Workforce and Governance.

• $117.2 million over four years from 2021-22 to establish a national database on service delivery, performance and outcomes across the mental health system and conduct longitudinal surveys on the mental health of children and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

  • $58.8 million over two years from 2021-22 to fund initiatives to attract, upskill and re-distribute mental health professionals and increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health workers.

• $15.9 million over four years from 2021-22 to better equip General Practitioners in primary mental health care.

• $7.3 million over four years from 2021-22 to enhance the capacity of the National Mental Health Commission to provide national leadership on mental health and suicide prevention reforms.

• $2.6 million over three years from 2021-22 to support frontline mental health workers and address the stigma around medical professionals seeking support.

•Funding to conduct a scoping study to investigate options to improve consumer and carer engagement in the mental health sector.   

Other areas of interest that will support mental health includes;

  • JobSeeker increase from April of $50/fortnight.
  • National Housing and Homelessness Agreement –
    •   The Government will provide $124.7 million over two years from 2021-22 to support workers in the housing and homelessness sector. The funding will be provided to states and territories under the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement to assist them to bolster public housing stocks, or to meet wage requirements under the 2011 Fair Work Australia decision on social and community services wages, where that requirement has not already been met.   
  •   NDIS Jobs and Market Fund – The Government will extend the National Disability Insurance Scheme Jobs and Market Fund (JMF) to 30 June 2024, and expand the scope of the JMF to implement initiatives that support the broader care and support sector market and workforce. This measure builds on the 2020-21 Budget measure titled Australia’s Care and Support Workforce Package. The cost of this measure will be met from within the existing resources of the Department of Social Services.   

Geoff Harris, Executive Director