2024 Federal Budget Overview


The 2024/25 Federal Budget has not adequately delivered investment that responds to the scale of the problem we know exists in our community. Mental Health Australia has consistently advocated for mental health reform to be prioritised, and while the investments made in this budget demonstrate that the government is broadly listening, we are not seeing the level of investment, scalability or longevity that is needed to truly transform mental health in Australia. It is clear there is more to do.  

Australia needs long-term and sustainable mental health reform to address the urgent need in the community.  As Prime Minister Anthony Albanese recently stated, ‘We can always do better when it comes to mental health.’ While we had hoped that this acknowledgement at the highest levels of government would translate into a more significant investment, we are nonetheless very pleased to see the Australian Government commit $361 million in new initiatives. 

Mental Health Australia strongly advocated for funding a national low-intensity digital mental health service and we are glad to see this has been delivered. This is an important investment that will enable more people to get support for their mental health early and free of charge – before their problems snowball.  

Mental Health Australia is also pleased to see the government announce funding to increase the clinical capacity of Medicare Mental Health Centres, building on the established Head to Health network, and funding to Primary Health Networks to deliver increased wrap-around care for people whose support needs are complex. Together, these announcements mean more people will be able to get mental health support that’s right for them, across the continuum of need.  

While we welcome these investments, they are broad, but not deep. We clearly need to move beyond a piecemeal approach when it comes to funding mental health, and make sure we have the foundations in place to deliver on long-term reforms that will change the trajectory of mental health in Australia.  

We have seen a clear message from the government about the centrality of Medicare to this government’s approach to healthcare – demonstrated through the intended rebranding of Head to Health centres as ‘Medicare Mental Health Centres’ and Minister Butler referencing that the Budget ‘embeds mental health at the heart of a stronger Medicare’. An additional $227 million has also been invested for a further 29 Medicare Urgent Care Clinics, which offer the opportunity for more accessible, urgent, non-emergency care, and are quickly becoming an important component of the service landscape for many Australians.  

In a broader sense, it was no surprise to see a firm focus on cost of living, with items such as HECS debt relief, freezing the maximum cost of PBS prescriptions and improvements to rental assistance making a case for this being the government’s “number one priority”. There was also an expected focus on housing pressures, with an additional $6.2 billion in new investments to address infrastructure bottlenecks, housing for students and provide more social and affordable housing. Given that MHA’s own Report to the Nation in 2023 found the rising cost-of-living is having a “big impact” on the mental health of 58% of Australians, with housing costs particularly impacting 41% of the community, Mental Health Australia is pleased to see a Federal Budget which comes to the table on these vital concerns.  

Overall, this is a Federal Budget which acknowledges the challenges and hardships being faced by the Australian community but doesn’t always deliver to the scale of the problems we are facing. We see that the government is listening, and is attuned to the issues, but the quantum of investment made falls short of what is needed to create meaningful change in people’s wellbeing. There is much more to do, and we will keep working collaboratively with MHA members, people with lived experience and their family, carers and supporters, and the government, to drive mental health reform, so that everyone in Australia can access the mental health care they need, regardless of their income or where they live.  

Read the Media Release here.

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