2021 Federal Budget Summary

2021 Federal Budget Summary

The Australian Government has provided a welcome $2.3 billion down payment on its response to the recommendations made by the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry in Mental Health and the Advice to the National Suicide Prevention Adviser’s Final Report. 
 
It is very positive that the Government acknowledges that this is only the first instalment of their response to the PC Report. It has now publicly supported in full, in part or in principle all of the 21 recommendations of the PC Report and the eight recommendations of the NSPA Final Advice.  
 
Investments in prevention and early intervention, child, youth and adult treatment services, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention, broader suicide prevention initiatives and the mental health workforce will make a real difference for people seeking support for their mental ill health. 
 
This includes $1.4 billion in person-centred treatment, and specifically the development of a national network of community based service hubs including up to 57 additional mental health treatment centres and satellites for adults, youth and children, through the Head to Health and headspace programs.   
Research funding has been provided for the Mental Health Australia General Clinical Trial Network (MAGNET) that Mental Health Australia is a partner to, which will enhance treatment access and improve the health of communities across Australia. This and new research funding for eating disorders is also welcomed as these programs will help generate new therapies with lived experience leadership. 
 
The funding for psychosocial services for two years provides funding security for now but is well below recommendations made by the Productivity Commission. The expectation is that additional funding will result from the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreement negotiations between the national, state and territory governments.
    
The Productivity Commission recommendation that independent consumer and carer peaks be established has been progressed with the investment of 0.3m to scope and work with the sector to “investigate and codesign future national peak body arrangements to provide consumers and carers with a greater say in the future of the mental health system” with further funding to support the training for 390 new peer workers. 
  
While the details for the implementation of all these new investments is to be outlined it is clear that the Primary Health Networks will play a major role. It is imperative that they engage consumers and carers early in the design and delivery of these new services and that there is broader sector engagement to ensure service integration and to inform appropriate accountability and evaluation processes.     
 
We warmly welcome the important aged care reform package which tonight sets a new tone for the way we respond to the health and care needs of older Australians and we look forward to working with provider members in and connected to our sector to ensure that mental health care responses are front and centre both in aged residential care and in community based care.

Lachlan Searle
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mental health, Federal budget 2020